The financial crisis of 2008 created a huge upheaval in world financial markets and U.S. households. It also created a lot of data—and an opportunity for Stanford Law School.
The federal inquiry that followed the upheaval was undertaken by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), created to examine, as its website says, “the causes, domestic and global, of the current financial and economic crisis in the United States.” Established as part of the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009, the commission was an independent, 10-member panel composed of private citizens with experience in areas such as housing, economics, finance, market regulation, banking, and consumer protection. The commission’s statutory instructions set out 22 specific topics for inquiry and called for the examination of the collapse of major financial institutions that failed or would have failed if not for exceptional assistance from the government.
The commission created a website dedicated to capturing data on matters related to its mission and purpose. But when the operations of the FCIC concluded in February 2011, as mandated by the government, the website also ceased to exist. However, FCIC members decided that it was in the public’s interest to allow information related to its findings to continue to be made available on a public website. Enter the Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University and the Robert Crown Law Library at Stanford Law School, which agreed to host the website and to make the data more accessible in the coming years.
“The records of the FCIC are a valuable research source for scholars and policymakers seeking a more detailed appreciation of our recent and ongoing financial crisis. Indeed, these records are probably the greatest single unmined data source out there. By making this information available on an ongoing basis we hope to contribute to a deeper, more nuanced appreciation of how we got into this mess and of the challenges that face our economy as we try to dig our way out,” says Joseph A. Grundfest, JD ’78, William A. Franke Professor of Law and Business and senior faculty at the Rock Center. Read more about the project.