The Magazine of Corporate Responsibility

Obama Presses for Shareholder Reforms

by Jim Hyatt

President Obama reiterated support for stronger shareholder protections in  a speech on financial reform today at the Cooper Union in New York City.

Was3045561In remarks prepared for delivery, the President reviewed causes of the recent financial crisis, pointedly declaring that some on Wall Street "forgot that behind every dollar traded or leveraged, there is family looking to buy a house, pay for an education, open a business, or save for retirement."

And, he declared in what's likely to be the most widely quoted sound bite, "A free market was never meant to be a free license to take whatever you can get, however you can get it."

The speech reviewed a number of changes being considered in Congress, and said criticism of the proposals as including future taxpayer bailouts was "not factually accurate."

Concerning shareholder governance issues, the President said "these Wall Street reforms will give shareholders new power in the financial system.  They'll get a say on pay: a voice with respect to the  salaries and bonuses awarded to top executives.  And the SEC will have the authority to give shareholders more say in corporate elections, so that investors and pension holders have a stronger role in determining who manages the companies in which they've placed their savings."

The full text of President Obama's remarks is available here.

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