Obama Wall Street address calls for change and cooperation

Cooper Union Foundation Building

The Cooper Union Foundation Building, where the Obama Wall Street speech took place. From Wikimedia Commons

As the financial reform bill is starting to make its way through Congress, President Obama went to Cooper Union College to speak, and the Obama Wall Street speech was full of requests for cooperation and change.  He asked for the Volcker Rule to be reinstated and implored Wall Street to cast off its  insular nature and mind the connection it has to the rest of the American economy.  A lot of people have been sent running for a money lender or to the unemployment line because of financial mismanagement.

Obama Wall Street address calls for reform

The Obama Wall Street address at Cooper Union College was attended by many Wall Street luminaries, and a full transcript is available from Reuters.  He called for common sense reforms and to curb the influence of lobbyists on regulatory bodies.  He also took Wall Street to task for being irresponsible.  He suggested some specific reforms were needed: the public needs more insulation from too-big-to-fail firms, greater transparency, more consumer protections and greater controls for shareholders.

Volcker Rule

Part of the financial reform bill is the instituting of the Volcker Rule.  Named for former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, the Volcker Rule is a proposed rule that would prohibit banks from certain kinds of trades or investments that aren’t on behalf of their customers, or from other kinds of risky trades. Critics have declared regulations would stagnate industry growth, but Obama countered that “unless your business model depends on bilking people there is little to fear from these rules.” (From USA Today.)

Defending and decrying bailouts

Included in the Obama Wall Street speech was a defense and denunciation of the bailouts.  The President maintained that bailouts were made because the risk of not doing so would be greater than doing nothing.  At the same time, he also said that “the American people should never have been put in that position in the first place.” He staunchly denied the notion that further bailouts would be on the table, as he made it clear that greater insulation from gambles on the market was needed.  The President clearly doesn’t want to give Wall Street another huge cash advance from the taxpayers.

Financial Reform bill passes the House

The financial reform bill, the features of which were part of the Obama Wall Street speech, has passed the House of Representatives, and a Senate bill is due out soon.  Republicans, and some Wall Street impresarios have opposed it, while others have said it won’t provide the right kind of reforms.

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