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Financial 411: Expanding New York and New Jersey Airports

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Financial Crisis was Avoidable: Panel

The financial crisis that pushed the U.S. into its worst recession in generations didn't have to happen. That's the conclusion of the commission examining the causes of the meltdown in 2008.

"This financial crisis could have been avoided," said Phil Angelides, chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. "This calamity was the result of human action, inaction and misjudgment. Not of mother nature or computer models gone haywire."

The report spreads the blame around for the collapse: excessive borrowing, risky investments, a government ill-prepared to handle a crisis and financial companies acting recklessly.

But the panel had particular scorn for federal regulators and the Federal Reserve. "This was in large part because of a widely-accepted belief in the self-correcting nature of the markets and the ability of the financial firms to police themselves," said John Thompson, a Democratic appointee to the panel. "This misplaced confidence in deregulation of a highly competitive industry was championed by the former federal reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, and others, and supported by successive administrations and Congresses."

But like much in Washington these days, the panel split along party lines. The six commissioners appointed by Democrats approved the final report. The four Republican appointees dissented, and came to their own conclusion about the causes of the financial crisis.  

One of those Republican appointees, Vice Chairman Bill Thomas, criticized the majority report for casting too wide a net of blame. "If you blame everybody, you don't really provide what I thought was a primary duty, and that was to focus on the causes of this financial crisis," he said.  

On Wall Street, the report didn't make too much of an impact. Many didn't even know it existed. Hiba Boutari, with Deutsche Bank said the financial crisis is old news, and that she probably won't read the report. "Especially with the Dow coming up yesterday, what will this book have to offer to me, I guess," she said. "Nothing."

Markets

The Dow Jones gained four points, to get close to that 12,000 threshold, at 11,990. The S&P 500 added three points, ending at 1,300. The Nasdaq closed up 16 points, ending the day at 2,755.

Improving the Efficiency of Air Travel

On a morning when snow grounded hundreds of flights, we're reminded how much New York City relies on efficient air travel.  

The Regional Planning Association issued a report today calling for a major expansion of Kennedy and Newark Liberty airports, as a way to deal with the problems of system-wide delays and congestion that often start here.   

WNYC's transportation reporter, Jim O'Grady, was at the conference where business leaders and government officials talked about the report. He explains the options on the table for the proposed expansions, including partially razing terminals and rebuilding them.

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