Angelides brings financial crisis probe 'field hearing' to California

So far this year, Phil Angelides has made Alan Greenspan squirm. He's rattled the head of Goldman Sachs and put the nation's chief money men, Ben Bernanke and Timothy Geithner, on the spot about the stock market crash.

Now Angelides, the former Democratic state treasurer deputized by Congress to investigate the market collapse, is bringing his roadshow to his hometown. As chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, he will preside over a hearing in Sacramento on Thursday to delve into the details of the housing bubble.

Sacramento is the last stop on a tour that has taken Angelides' commission to other troubled communities — Bakersfield, Las Vegas and Miami. It's also the last day of public testimony before the commission delivers its report to Congress in mid-December.

Angelides said "field hearings" in places like Sacramento aren't window dressing; they're essential to understanding how the mortgage industry went haywire.

"This isn't something that just happened in the suites of Wall Street," he said.

It's no accident that the field hearings — which are open to the public — are being held in cities such as Sacramento and Miami; they're among the epicenters of the meltdown and the hometowns of key members of the commission. If mortgage securities traders and others on Wall Street had come to places like Sacramento during the housing boom, "they would have had a much better sense of how badly skewed things had become," Angelides said.

Interviewed at his office in east Sacramento, the 57-year-old Angelides said the commission's investigation has been "both fascinating and disturbing." Although Congress passed sweeping financial-market reform legislation in July, he warns that another implosion could take place.

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