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This article examines how the democratic political institutions of the president and the Congress interacted with private firms and regulatory agencies to contribute to the financial meltdown in 2008-09. This economic governance system failed to counteract the excessive optimism in the financial markets but rather contributed to and reinforced this development. Political moral hazard weakened institutional checks and balances in economic regulation and contributed to a convergence of political ideology and policy preferences of the president, Congress, political parties, and professional experts. These developments occurred during significant financial innovation, making it difficult to foresee the risk building in the system.