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Aspen Institute President & CEO Walter Isaacson Moderates Panel on Building Main Street’s Financial Security

April 2, 2009  • Institute Contributor

On April 2, 2009, Aspen IFS gathered distinguished panelists to discuss the roles Main Street, Wall Street, and the federal government must play to foster financial security in the face of the financial crisis.  The event also signified the release of Aspen IFS’s issue brief, “Wall Street/Main Street: The Challenge of Building Financial Security in the Obama Era.” To read the policy brief click here.

Panelists included Michael J. Johnston, Executive Vice President of the Capital Group; Eugene A. Ludwig, Founder and CEO of Promontory Financial Group and former U.S. Comptroller of the Currency; Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League and former Mayor of New Orleans; Terry Savage, nationally-syndicated personal finance columnist with The Chicago Sun-Times; Paul Schott Stevens, President and CEO of the Investment Company Institute; and Dr. Lewis Mandell, Senior Fellow at Aspen IFS.

Although the financial crisis has heightened financial insecurity fears, panelists discussed how many Americans have fallen victim to financial insecurity for years.  Distribution of assets in the U.S. has become extremely uneven, and the disparity in the “Investment Gap” is only increasing.  This problem provides the financial industry with an opportunity to use its expertise to create new ways to encourage more Americans to save, invest, and grow their assets. 

The panelists overwhelmingly agreed that Wall Street must develop a better, safer, and more inclusive system that would help Americans save, invest, and own.  The panelists also reached a general agreement that the government must help rebuild Main Street’s confidence through regulatory reform of the financial industry and an emphasis more on saving and much less on debt.  Looking forward to a new savings agenda, panelists proposed economic growth through ideas such as child saving accounts. In closing, the participants agreed Main Street and Wall Street must establish a better connection to rebuild a financial system that can be trusted and gives everyone, regardless of their income, the opportunity to save and build wealth.        

To read more about the event click here. 

Pictured: Paul Schott Stevens, Investment Company Institute; Dr. Lewis Mandell, Aspen IFS; Terry Savage, The Chicago Sun-Times; Marc Morial, National Urban League; Lisa Mensah, Aspen IFS; Eugene A. Ludwig, Promontory Financial Group; Michael J. Johnston, Capital Group