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Speech
Superintendent Richard H. Neiman's Opening Statement at the Congressional Oversight Panel Hearing with Treasury Secretary Geithner

June 22, 2010

Mr. Secretary, thank you for being here again to speak with the Panel and to the public about important issues impacting financial stability and economic recovery.

It has been over a year since our first hearing with you in April 2009, so it is perhaps fitting to briefly take stock of where we stand in comparison to then.

First, it goes without saying that progress has been made in restoring financial stability. Although difficult challenges remain, the crisis levels of last year have receded and capital markets are beginning to function more normally.

Second, a significant amount of TARP funds have been successfully repaid.  This is an impressive accomplishment, as many banks have been able to privately raise capital and increase earnings in a market that is still constrained by recession. 

Finally, many of the causes of the financial crisis – that put American taxpayers on the hook in the first place – are being addressed in Congress as we speak.

However, in other areas, needed change has not come as quickly as desired over the past year.  And unfortunately these are some of the areas where Americans are perhaps hit the hardest.  I may have earned the Panel’s title of virtual “broken record” on foreclosure prevention, but it is critical that families at risk of losing their homes have options that work.  I am particularly concerned with yesterday’s Treasury HAMP report, indicating that there are now far more families whose HAMP trial modifications have been canceled than there are families whose trial modifications have converted to long-term.

Further, I think we all agree that small business lending is key to entrepreneurship and job creation. Yet we continue to hear that viable small businesses are unable to access the credit they need. This was a recurrent theme from witnesses in our recent hearing in Phoenix. I am encouraged that the House recently approved creation of the Administration’s proposed Small Business Lending Fund.  This Fund would provide capital to the community and regional banks that are at the heart of small business lending. I would like to explore small business credit access and other lending issues with you this morning.

Finally, with the financial reform work near completion, the United States finds itself in a unique and, some critics say, precarious position.  Our country is doing our part in setting an example as a world financial leader. But as you are more aware than anyone, there are challenges we face within the global community between balancing our role as a leader of financial reform with the future of our international competitiveness.  Time permitting, I would like to discuss this challenge with you so the public can more fully gain your perspective on moving our nation towards reform while at the same time strengthening our position in a global economy.

I look forward to your views.

 

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