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US Panel Begins Dissection of Financial Crisis

A special commission appointed by U.S. lawmakers is set to begin its search for the root causes of the global financial crisis.

The 10-member Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission meets for the first time Thursday, about a year after the collapse of prominent U.S. financial firm Lehman Brothers signaled the start of the meltdown.

The commission has the power to require witnesses to testify about the events that led to the crisis. It must submit its findings to the U.S. Congress by December 2010.

Some economists have blamed the crisis on a series of events that included the collapse of the U.S. housing market and the subsequent decline in value of complex investments.

Others have raised concerns about weak financial regulations.

Leaders from the world's top industrialized nations, the Group of 20, have been looking at ways to strengthen financial regulations and will consider proposals when they meet in the U.S. city of Pittsburgh later this month.

Meanwhile, efforts within the United States to overhaul the financial regulatory system have met with some resistance.

U.S. President Barack Obama has proposed giving the Federal Reserve (the U.S. central bank) the power to regulate financial firms that are so large they could hurt the country's economy if they fail.

Some lawmakers have questioned that approach, arguing instead in favor of a council of regulators from agencies that monitor the economy.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.