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Can they make you want to watch? Financial-crisis commission sets witness list for first hearings

January 11, 2010 |  1:00 am

The federal commission created to investigate the financial meltdown has finally nailed down the full witness list for its inaugural hearings this week.

The public relations challenge for the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission: If it can’t generate some memorable -- i.e., hard-hitting -- question-and-answer sessions with the witnesses, a disgusted America may tune it out before the probe even gets going.

The bipartisan commission late Sunday released the complete witness list for the hearings, to be held Wednesday and Thursday in Washington. As previously announced, the sessions will lead off on Wednesday with four of the nation’s top bankers testifying: Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs Group, Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, John Mack of Morgan Stanley and Brian Moynihan of Bank of America.

FCIClogo If the questioning of the bankers turns into a snorefest, the second panel on Wednesday has the potential to be interesting: The committee will hear from Michael Mayo, an analyst at Calyon Securities who is famous for his negative views of the banking industry; J. Kyle Bass, a Dallas hedge fund manager who made a fortune in 2007 by betting on the implosion of subprime mortgages; and Peter J. Solomon, a New York investment banker who has been critical of the TARP bank bailout program.

On Thursday the hearings will lead off with testimony from U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder; Sheila Bair, chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.; and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary  Schapiro. State regulators including Denise Voigt Crawford, who heads the North American Securities Administrators Assn., will testify later that day.

Not on the witness list for these inaugural hearings: former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. But commission Chairman Phil Angelides told my colleague Jim Puzzanghera last week that the panel eventually expects to call Paulson and former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan to testify.

The 10-member panel said it already has had private meetings with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and current Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, among others.

-- Tom Petruno

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