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Obama Warns Finance Industry

September 14, 2009

President Obama paid a visit to Wall Street to warn financiers that he does not intend to pass up the opportunity to overhaul the financial industry.

Marking the one-year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Obama told  the financiers in attendance at his speech at Federal Hall that they would not be allowed to go back to their old ways.

“Unfortunately there are some in the financial industry who are misreading this moment,” he said. “Instead of learning the lessons of Lehman and the crises from which we’re still recovering, they’re choosing to ignore those lessons. I'm convinced they do so not just at their own peril, but at our nation's. So I want everybody here to hear my words: We will not go back to the days of reckless behavior and unchecked excess that was at the heart of this crisis, where too many were motivated only by the appetite for quick kills and bloated bonuses. Those on Wall Street cannot resume taking risks without regard for consequences, and expect that next time, American taxpayers will be there to break their fall.”

Obama said the financial industry needs “strong rules of the road” to follow. Those apparently involve the multipart legislation for overhauling financial regulations that the Treasury Department transmitted to Congress before last month’s recess. Among the goals are oversight of the over-the-counter derivatives market and the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency and a systemic risk regulator.

Accountants are likely to play a major part in implementing whatever rules of the road ultimately get passed by Congress and put in place by the various agencies. They will be the ones auditing the financial statements and doing the taxes, as well as making sure that sound risk management strategies and compliance policies are in place at financial companies that are all too ready to take enormous risks with other people’s money.

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