Obama's has call for bank limits hits Wall Street

Obama's has call for bank limits hits Wall Street
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Washington: Embracing 1930s Depression-era policy and populist politics, a combative President Barack Obama chastised big Wall Street banks on Thursday and urgently called for limits on their size and investments to stave off a new US economic meltdown.

Investors responded by dumping bank stock.

Obama's rhetoric covered the whole financial industry, but the key changes will affect only a few high-profile players, including JPMorgan Chase & Co, while sparing investment banks like Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The move could undercut Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's strategy of maintaining close ties with the financial industry as part of the administration's overhaul efforts.

"We have to get this done," Obama said at the White House. "If these folks want a fight, it's a fight I'm ready to have."

"We've come through a terrible crisis," the president said, pivoting the White House focus from health care to an economy that has been slow to recover during his first year in office. "The American people have paid a very high price. That's why we're going to rein in the excess and abuse that nearly brought down our financial system."

Markets tumbled on the news, the Dow Jones industrial average losing 213 points and continuing this week's slide that has erased the Dow's gains for 2010 and provided yet another dire sign for recovery.

Obama's announcement included changes that have been advocated for over a year by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker — who appeared with the president at the White House — particularly by endorsing Volcker's proposal to ban banks that take deposits from also trading stocks for their own profit. The change would separate commercial banks from investment banks, a line that was blurred a decade ago by the repeal of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act.

That will not help, suggested Rob Nichols, president of the Financial Services Forum, an industry group representing 18 of the largest financial companies.


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