Congress names financial crisis panel

July 15, 2009 at 7:17 PM

WASHINGTON, July 15 (UPI) -- A former California treasurer will head a new commission looking into the causes of the U.S. financial crisis, congressional Democrats said Wednesday.

Assisting Phil Angelides as vice chairman will be Bill Thomas, a former Republican representative from California, who was selected by Republican leaders, The New York Times reported.

The 10-member committee was created by Congress to investigate the roots of the crisis that sent the U.S. economy into a free fall and subsequently the worst recession since the Great Depression that has gripped the United States since December 2007. The panel has a broad mandate and subpoena power to probe areas such as exotic financial instruments and credit rating agencies to bloated compensation and regulators' failure to thwart risky lending practices of banks, the Times said.

The commission, patterned after the commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, is supposed to issue a final report at the end of 2010.

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