By Martin Berg
In the 1930s, the Senate Banking committee appointed a no-nonsense assistant district attorney named Ferdinand Pecora to lead an investigation into the causes of the stock crash of 1929.
Pecora held hearings that were equal parts public spectacle and tough scrutiny of the financial industry’s abuses. His investigation, closely followed by an angry American public, led to a raft of reforms of the banking system, most notably the Glass- Steagal Act, which kept the federally guaranteed business of making loans and taking deposits separate from other, riskier aspects of banking and investing.
Now Congress has appointed a financial inquiry commission to explore our recent financial meltdown.
The panel will not be headed by a hard-nosed prosecutor but by a real estate developer who became Democratic California treasurer from 1999 to 2007 and then an unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate, Phil Angelides.