President Barack Obama discussed ways to bolster business confidence and economic growth during a White House meeting with heads of the world’s biggest banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS:US)’s Lloyd C. Blankfein and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM:US)’s Jamie Dimon.
The chief executive officers offered their ideas on strengthening the recovery including promoting the rebound in housing, enhancing education and training and clean energy initiatives, according to a White House statement. The topics also included reducing the budget deficit and reworking U.S. immigration laws, the White House said.
Also among the bank CEOs were Bank of America Corp. (BAC:US)’s Brian T. Moynihan, Citigroup Inc. (C:US)’s Michael Corbat, American International Group Inc. (AIG:US)’s Robert Benmosche and Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC:US)’s John Stumpf, according to a list provided by the administration. The bankers are in Washington for the Financial Services Forum’s quarterly meeting.
Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, declined to give details about the conversation with the president. He said the meeting was “part of our ongoing engagement with the financial sector and with the business community.”
Obama is seeking to rebuild relationships with top business leaders as he seeks to create more jobs. Ties with bankers have been strained by new U.S. curbs on fees and trading, and Obama’s Nov. 6 re-election helped drive the KBW Bank Index (BKX) to its worst drop in five months the following day. The gauge has since rebounded and is up 11 percent this year.
The closed-door meeting follows yesterday’s release of Obama’s $3.8 trillion spending plan for fiscal 2014. The blueprint, which the White House budget office says would provide $1.8 trillion in additional deficit reduction over 10 years, includes collecting $580 billion more in taxes, mostly from the wealthiest Americans.
He again is seeking adoption of the Buffett rule, named for billionaire investor Warren Buffett, to impose a 30 percent minimum tax on households with more than $1 million in annual income. The plan also would restrict tax deductions for top earners and cap tax-favored retirement accounts of some private- equity executives and self-employed professionals at $3 million.
Obama submitted his budget to Congress amid signs the U.S. economy, the world’s largest, is struggling to accelerate after growing 0.4 percent in the last quarter of 2012. Payroll growth slowed to 88,000 added jobs in March from 268,000 in February, Labor Department data showed. Figures released today showed first-time unemployment-insurance claims fell by 42,000 to 346,000 in the week ended April 6 from a revised 388,000 the previous week, easing concern that the labor market was taking a turn for the worse.
“Over the past three years our businesses have created nearly 6.5 million new jobs, but we know we can help them create more,” Obama, 51, said yesterday. “Corporate profits are at an all-time high, but we have to get wages and incomes rising as well.”
The business leaders left without making any public comments.
Today marked Blankfein’s third meeting with Obama since the president was re-elected, according to one person familiar with the meeting who asked not to be identified to discuss the private session. Blankfein, 58, is chairman of the Financial Services Forum and Moynihan, 53, is vice chairman.
JPMorgan’s Dimon, 57, runs the biggest U.S. bank by assets. It’s based in New York along with Goldman Sachs, one of the biggest securities traders, while Bank of America, the second- largest U.S. bank by assets, has its headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. Wells Fargo, based in San Francisco, is the biggest U.S. home lender.
Other members of the forum scheduled to attend are Morgan Stanley (MS:US)’s James Gorman, Deutsche Bank AG (DBK)’s Jacques Brand, UBS AG (UBSN)’s Sergio Ermotti, Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (BK:US)’s Gerald Hassell, State Street Corp. (STT:US)’s Jay Hooley, Abigail Johnson, president of Fidelity Investments, Metlife Inc. (MET:US)’s Steve Kandarian, Prudential Financial Inc. (PRU:US)’s John Strangfeld and James Weddle of Edward Jones & Co.
Top Obama advisers also were in the meeting, including Valerie Jarrett, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling and Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Alan Krueger, according to the White House.
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