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President Barack Obama addresses reporters in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2009, following a meeting with Congressional financial committee leaders and his economic advisors. Joining President Obama are from left, National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., U.S.Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Senate Banking Committee member Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and House Financial Services Committee member Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala.
White House photo 2/25/09 by Pete Souza
It's clear that a lot of factors led us into this economic crisis, but one of the biggest was that our economy was left exposed by regulations that were out of date and regulators who weren't minding the store.
President Obama today took that problem head on by laying out 7 key principles for transforming the nation's regulatory system. We must:
  1. Enforce strict oversight of financial institutions that pose systemic risks
  2. Strengthen markets so they can withstand both system-wide stress and the failure of one or more large institutions
  3. Encourage our financial system to be open and transparent, and to speak in plain language investors can understand
  4. supervise financial products based on "actual data on how actual people make financial decisions"
  5. Hold market players accountable, starting at the top
  6. Overhaul our regulations so they are comprehensive and free of gaps
  7. Recognize that the challenges we face are global
"I have the utmost confidence that if these outstanding public servants standing beside me are working in concert, if we all do our jobs, if we once again guide the market's invisible hand with a higher principle, our markets will recover," the President said, standing alongside his economic team. "Our economy will once again thrive, and America will once again lead the world in this new century as it did in the last."
He also had some strong words for people who have been misrepresenting this plan:
Let me be clear: The choice we face is not between some oppressive government-run economy or a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism. Rather, strong financial markets require clear rules of the road, not to hinder financial institutions, but to protect consumers and investors, and ultimately to keep those financial institutions strong. Not to stifle, but to advance competition, growth and prosperity. And not just to manage crises, but to prevent crises from happening in the first place, by restoring accountability, transparency and trust in our financial markets. These must be the goals of a 21st century regulatory framework that we seek to create.