Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–July 12, 2011.
As Prepared for Delivery
Good morning. Welcome to Treasury. Thanks for coming.
I want to thank Rosie Rios, Treasurer of the United States, and Mary Miller, Assistant Secretary for Financial Markets, for organizing this event.
This is our second Women in Finance Symposium, and it brings together a remarkable group of women to discuss how institutional investors are shifting strategies, making asset allocation choices and finding new opportunities – opportunities that will help translate savings into the investments that will grow our economy, spur job creation and boost American competitiveness.
The President and this Administration are committed to getting our economy on a sounder footing so that America’s workers and businesses have the security and opportunities they deserve.
As the President said, we still have a long way to go. Now to get there, we have to act on every good idea and make every effort possible to accelerate growth. And institutional investors are critical to that growth. They contribute to the dynamism of our economy, America’s competitiveness and the creation of good-paying jobs.
As you know, we’ve been engaged in talks with the Congress on a deficit reduction agreement. Let me be clear: the debt limit will be raised. Failure is not an option. Both sides understand what is at stake and will come to an agreement.
The question on the table is will that agreement be good for the economy?
What meets that test? An agreement that helps preserve the recovery in the near-term and reinforces the foundations for growth in the long-term. An agreement that helps us grow, not one that chokes off prosperity. An agreement that makes room for us to invest in our future, in things like education, innovation and infrastructure. And an agreement that preserves our capacity to support the economy when necessary.
The President has made it clear he wants to do the largest deal possible. And he’s put forward a number of things that are very difficult for him politically. He’s willing to achieve savings across government from defense to entitlements as long as they are done responsibly, over time.
But the Republicans are going to have to do some difficult things too. You can’t ask middle class families and retirees to bear the entire sacrifice for those savings on their own. The President has proposed some very sensible tax reforms that would eliminate loopholes and ask the wealthiest Americans to pay a modest additional share of the burden.
The only way to do this is in a balanced way, and I’m confident we’re going to get something accomplished soon that’s good for the country.
Now, the fundamental question in those talks – what is good for the economy? – is the same as what we’re discussing here today.
Today’s panels will build on last year’s Women in Finance Symposium and on the Access to Capital Conference that we held just this past March to learn more about unlocking financing for businesses and entrepreneurs. Again and again, we heard how the financial crisis caused a lot of damage to the capacity of innovators to get financing. But we also heard how institutional investors are allowing innovative companies to gain access to funding again.
Institutional investors are a powerful source of capital to help advance economic growth and drive job creation in the United States. U.S. pension funds alone have more than $11 trillion under management. And as you all know, the value of savings is higher today because the President was willing to make a series of tough choices to avoid a Great Depression.
We’re in the middle of reforming the financial system so that it emerges not only transformed but in much stronger shape, with the best mix of protections available in the world for investors and consumers and the best opportunities for businesses to raise capital.
Before I close, I’d like to tell a quick story.
In the 1960s, Madelyn Dunham was known as a tough, intelligent woman. Friends described her as “sharp as a tack.” Her daughter was a single mother with two young children. And Madelyn took a job at a bank in Hawaii so she could help raise the family in her home. She eventually rose through the ranks to become one of the first female bank vice presidents in the state.
But then the years went by, and Madelyn was never promoted. As her grandson later put it: “I know that if given the chance, she would have run that bank better than anybody.”
Madelyn Dunham was President Obama’s grandmother, and although today’s symposium is a testament to the progress we’ve made as a country, we know we have more work to do. The financial industry still does not look like America.
But as we can see from the women in this room, the financial industry—particularly the institutional investor sector—is undergoing change. Women in senior positions across that sector now manage more than $2 trillion in assets in the U.S. today.
Now we know institutional investors are facing another kind of change. The financial crisis fundamentally altered how asset managers work. Today, we want to learn more about this shifting landscape. We want to learn how investors are reacting to new market conditions, what risk management practices are being adopted, and where assets are being allocated.
The work you do is vital to our economy. It helps channel capital to start-ups, entrepreneurs and innovative companies. It helps drive economic growth and put Americans to work. And it helps guarantee retirement security for teachers, firefighters and police officers.
As we know from history, change creates opportunity. And our hope is that this symposium will cast new light on what opportunities lie ahead.
Thank you very much for coming.