Page last updated at 14:40 GMT, Wednesday, 13 January 2010

US financial crisis panel begins

The New York Stock Exchange
Financial market weakness contributed to the US losing its top spot

The US Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission has begun the first of its public hearings.

Goldman Sachs chairman Lloyd Blankfein told the panel that US government support was critical in the crisis. "We benefited from it," he said.

The panel was set up by Congress to examine the causes of the crisis.

Executives from JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley bosses are also testifying about their banks' role in the financial crisis.

Findings and the report of the panel will be presented to Congress and President Barack Obama by 15 December.

One of the members of the panel, Keith Hennessey, has already posted on his blog the questions he would like to ask bank chiefs.

Mr Hennessey is ex-senior White House economic advisor to former US President George W Bush.

'Hands tied'

The 10 commissioners, appointed by Republicans and Democrats, also include a former Wall Street analyst, Heather Murren, the chairman of the board at technology company Symantec, John W Thompson, and a market regulator and lawyer, Brooksley Born, as well as former elected officials from both major political parties.

Ms Murren told the BBC that there were officially 22 issues under investigation, from regulatory reform, to mortgage fraud and executive compensation.

Meanwhile, Ms Murren has said that there is a strong feeling among the public that those who contributed to the financial crisis should be held accountable and perhaps not compensated so strongly.

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