AFR to Big Wall Street Banks: Come Clean Before Angelides Commission


DATE: January 13, 2010

Washington, DC – As the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission kicks off its first public hearing today, Americans for Financial Reform calls on big banks to not only justify their reckless behavior but also explain why they are working to kill real reforms that would keep them from doing it again.

Heather Booth, Executive Director, Americans for Financial Reform: “When big bank executives testify before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission this week, they may well admit that they made some mistakes along the way. But mea culpas for public relations purposes are not going to bring back a single job lost because of their reckless behavior and lobbying for deregulation in the past. We have already seen how far that goes when the Bank of America CEO admitted that , ‘We as an industry cannot avoid the simple fact that we caused a lot of damage,’ while still planning to hand out bonuses that are close to 2007 levels – back before big banks needed government bailouts.

“What we need are real answers. We need to know how they systematically dismantled the regulatory structure put in place after the Great Depression to keep the financial system on solid footing. We need to know how they managed so skillfully to skirt what few regulations remain and to shield their activities from any oversight.

“These answers won’t be easy to get. The big banks have already shown they are not interested in providing information or assistance to fix the system. In fact they are putting everything they have into ensuring that there are no real changes made that could keep them from avoiding accountability and transparency and crashing the financial system yet again. They have already spent $344 million on lobbying efforts in the first three quarters of 2009, not including the $2 million in paid media the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent bashing the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

“It’s often said those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.  It’s clear these executives have learned nothing from the financial crisis and have no real interest in preventing another one. We can’t afford to repeat it. We hope the Commission will be another tool in strengthening our financial system.”

(Photo: Dystopos)