Who should head the U.S. probe of the financial meltdown?

Share via

This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

The list of possible candidates to chair a federal investigation of the financial-system debacle now includes retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Arthur Levitt, Bloomberg News reports, citing unnamed sources.

Congress wants to name a panel modeled on the one that investigated the cause of the early-1930s market crash that fed the Great Depression. That probe, spearheaded by Senate counsel Ferdinand Pecora in 1933, led to major financial reforms including the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Along the way it also made for great theater as Pecora called in the leading bankers of the era, including Charles E. Mitchell and Albert H. Wiggin, to testify about their roles in the meltdown.

The House and Senate have passed separate bills to create a commission, but still have to reconcile their differences before sending the legislation to President Obama.

From Bloomberg:

Discussions over who will lead the panel, as well as the group’s other members, continue and no decisions have been made, people familiar with the matter said. The commission is likely to have the power to subpoena witnesses and spend more than a year delving into the issue.


My vote would go to the 81-year-old Volcker, assuming he would be willing to give up his current gig as chairman of Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board and take on something potentially historic in scope and impact.

But in a recent interview on Bloomberg TV, Volcker said his role as an Obama advisor ‘is as temporary as it can be. I’m conscious of the fact that I’m not leaving enough time for fishing in my old age.’

O’Connor is 79; Levitt is 78.

-- Tom Petruno