US President Barack Obama speaks at the historic Federal Hall in the heart of Wall Street in New York September 14, 2009. Obama, marking a year since Lehman Brothers collapsed, urged financial firms Monday not to fight regulatory reform and urged Congress to pass his proposals by the end of the year.
Lecturing Wall Street on its own turf, President Barack Obama warned financial leaders not to use the recovering economy to race back into "reckless behavior" that could cause a new meltdown. He declared that a bailout-weary public will not break their fall again.
Obama insisted Monday that there is an urgent need for tighter financial regulation, and he cautioned his audience not to try to block it. He spoke on the first anniversary of the collapse of the Lehman Brothers investment bank, the largest bankruptcy in US history and a stark reminder of the financial crisis that spread into a deep recession despite huge federal bailouts of major companies.
"It is neither right nor responsible after you've recovered with the help of your government to shirk your obligation to the goal of wider recovery, a more stable system, and a more broadly shared prosperity," Obama said in a stern bid to boost his regulation proposals.
The president's speech reflected public sentiment that taxpayers were immeasurably harmed from last year's financial collapse - and that, barring change, it could happen again. As investment giants return to profit, millions of Americans are still coping with unemployment, home foreclosures and retirement portfolios that got washed away in the storm.
For symbolic emphasis, Obama spoke from venerable Federal Hall on Wall Street.
"Unfortunately, there are some in the financial industry who are misreading this moment," Obama told a quiet audience of leaders from the investment sector.