… This year, three of the nation's largest thrifts — IndyMac Bancorp, Washington Mutual and Downey Savings and Loan Association — have been seized by the government because they were, in essence, bankrupt. Three others, including Countrywide Financial, were forced to sell to avoid closing.

… [T]he failure of this many thrifts of this size raises questions about just how closely the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) was watching …

In 2004, James Gilleran, then director of OTS, said in a speech, "Our goal is to allow thrifts to operate with a wide breadth of freedom from regulatory intrusion." …

Just about that same time, the thrifts (and other financial institutions, too) began widespread use of adjustable-rate mortgages for home buyers who otherwise couldn't afford to borrow the money. But as the thrifts made more and riskier loans, the amount of money they set aside in reserve to cover defaulted loans dropped to its lowest level in two decades …

The Office of Thrift Supervision didn't cause the current financial meltdown. But the meltdown is worse than it should be because it was too accommodating to the interests of those it regulated rather than the public interest.