Oregon Treasurer, legislative leaders, consumer advocates cite need by nyx11518


									Ben Westlund
State Treasurer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                           Contact: James Sinks
Oct. 15, 2009                                                   503-508-0737 (cell)

   Oregon Treasurer, legislative leaders, consumer
 advocates cite need for financial regulatory reforms
  Transparency, consumer protections needed to restore confidence in financial system

SALEM – Have you ever been hit with a $3 fee do access your own money at a bank
automated teller? Have you bought a house, only to find out belatedly that hundreds of
dollars of fees were hidden in your mortgage?

Or has your state’s public pension system been walloped by losses, as a direct result of
inadequate regulations of the financial industry?

Oregon Treasurer Ben Westlund joined Thursday with legislative leaders and consumer
activists and, citing those examples, voiced the strong need in Oregon for new financial
market and consumer protection reforms in Washington D.C.

“We have been sailing in some choppy economic waters, and much of the turbulence of
the past year has been caused by a lack of proper oversight of financial products on Wall
Street,” Treasurer Westlund said during a press conference in his Capitol office. “We
don’t want this to ever happen again, and we need help from Congress.”

“It is in the vested and deep financial interest of Oregon families and workers to reform
our financial markets to make them transparent and accountable.”

Oregon’s future is directly tied to the transparency and the health of financial markets,
Westlund said. The Treasurer’s office manages the investment of the more than $65
billion in state trust funds, including the $47.6 billion Oregon Public Employees
Retirement Fund. The state’s investment officers consistently outperform the market, and
did so in the recent meltdown.

The new federal proposal, supported by the Obama administration, would streamline
consumer-focused oversight of financial institutions into a new Consumer Financial
Protection Agency (CFPA) that will seek to end abusive financial practices. The CFPA
will crack down on predatory mortgage lending practices, credit card abuses and other
faults in the financial system that have helped lead to the financial crisis.

Westlund lauded Oregon efforts to rein in payday lenders and other abusive practices, but
noted that Oregon’s reach only goes as far as the state line and doesn’t touch nationally
chartered banks and credit card companies, or New York-based investment houses.

He was joined in the Thursday press conference by the chairs of the Oregon Senate and
House consumer protection committees, Sen. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Beaverton, and Rep.
Paul Holvey, D-Eugene.

“We have made great strides in Oregon toward helping consumers but there is only so
much we can do here, and this federal effort is welcome and needed,” said Bonamici, a
former consumer protection attorney who once worked in Washington D.C.

“This past session we increased protections from abusive lending practices and put tighter
controls on risky loan products. I look forward to working with Sen. Merkley and the
rest of our federal delegation to ensure the quality of the financial products that underpin
the stability of our entire financial system,” Holvey said.

Other supporters represented Thursday included AARP, Oregon AFL-CIO, SEIU, Our
Oregon, Innovative Housing, Inc., and the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group

Alan Youse, a volunteer for AARP who lives in West Salem, said Americans cannot
afford a repeat of the recent financial collapse. “We know far too well that workers and
older Americans had their retirement savings decimated by this crisis,” he said. “The lax
regulatory protections that led to this crisis are still prevalent.”


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