Obama to Bankers: We Expect 'Extraordinary' Results

President Barack ObamaThe top executives of some of this nation’s largest financial institutions got an earful from President Obama in a meeting at the White House today, where they were told that an “extraordinary commitment” was expected of them to help rebuild the economy.
Primarily, the president told reporters after the morning session, the executives need to find more ways to “help creditworthy small and medium-size businesses get the loans that they need to open their doors, grow their operations, and create new jobs.”
U.S. regulators and Small Business Administration officials have said in recent weeks that credit tightening persists among financial institutions, in part because lenders are preserving capital against future loan losses.
The President said no one wants banks to make risky loans again, and he understands that regulators require them to hold on to capital as a hedge. Nonetheless, Obama said he reminded the gathered executives of the taxpayer-funded bailouts that helped their institutions get back on solid financial footing.
“But given the difficulty businesspeople are having as lending has declined, and given the exceptional assistance banks received to get them through a difficult time, we expect them to explore every responsible way to help get our economy moving again,” Obama said.
Among the chiefs of financial institutions in attendance were: Ken Chenault, President and CEO, American Express; Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO, JP Morgan Chase; Richard Fairbank, Chairman and CEO, Capital One; Bob Kelly, Chairman and CEO, Bank of New York Mellon; Ken Lewis, President and CEO, Bank of America; Gregory Palm, Executive Vice President and Chief Counsel, Goldman Sachs; and John Stumpf, President and CEO, Wells Fargo.
Obama said he was encouraged to hear from some of the executives that they are commencing “second look” programs to review small business lending policies and practices, and some have hired additional personnel to assist. But the President remained stern in his claim that the bankers could do more.
“We expect some results, because I’m getting too many letters from small businesses who explain that they are creditworthy and banks that they’ve had a long-term relationship with are still having problems giving them loans,”  Obama said.
“And so I urged these institutions here today to go back and take a third and fourth look about how they are operating when it comes to small business and medium-sized business lending.”

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