Why the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission is Better than Valium

Last Updated May 5, 2010 12:30 PM EDT

Wall Street executives have been trooping down to Washington for months now to answer questions about their role in the financial crisis. It's compelling testimony.

I kid! It's a snore-fest. That's not because it isn't absolutely essential to figure out what, exactly, caused the meltdown. It's because the bankers all say the same thing. Ad nauseum. In the latest installment, former execs of Bear Stearns, which JPMorgan Chase (JPM) bought in 2008 to save the investment bank from going bust, are speaking today before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. (I'm watching right now -- it wasn't until today that I knew I could type with my eyes closed.)

If you feel like tuning in, be my guest. Others may simply want to whack themselves across the back with a knotted rope. Alternatively, here's my summation of what you'll hear, stripped of all those annoying additional nouns, verbs and other lexical doodads:

  • We're sorry
  • We didn't do anything wrong
  • No one predicted the financial crisis
  • We didn't cause the financial crisis
  • We weren't involved in day-to-day management
  • Our risk-management practices were strong
  • Our business model was sound
  • Our company had ample capital and liquidity
  • Concerns about my company's solvency were unfounded
  • A shortage of confidence, not cash, caused us to fail
  • High financial leverage didn't induce risk-taking
  • Big bonuses didn't induce risk-taking
  • Risk-taking didn't induce risk-taking
  • Banks failed because of "overwhelming market forces"
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    Alain Sherter covers business and economic affairs for CBSNews.com.