7 Oct 2011

Obama criticises banks' behaviour

9:31 am on 7 October 2011

President Obama has criticised banks over rising fees and efforts to block financial reform and has warned of the potential impact of the euro zone crisis on the United States.

Mr Obama warned that a potential European debt meltdown needed to be averted by swift action from the continent's leaders.

He urged Republicans to pass his $US447 billion jobs bill as insurance against a double dip recession.

At a White House news conference on Thursday, the president said his financial reform bill was designed to prevent Wall Street abuses and chided banks and Republicans for trying to repeal the reform measures.

He said banks and other financial institutions must compete on the basis of the best service, products and price, not on the basis of hidden fees, deceptive practices or "derivative cocktails that nobody understands".

Mr Obama said recent hikes in fees charged by banks were not a good practice and were likely unfair to consumers.

Bank of America said last week it planned to charge customers who use debit cards to make purchases a $US5 monthly fee.

The president said banks could charge what they like as long as there was accountability and transparency, and he stressed it was appropriate for the government to play an oversight role.

Mr Obama spoke at the news conference after thousands of anti-Wall Street demonstrators protested at New York's financial district and in several US cities this week against economic inequality and the power of US financial institutions.