International banking regulations agreed upon in Basel, Switzerland, last week will reduce the probability of a future financial meltdown, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said before the House Financial Services Committee today.

The so-called Basel III rules will, among other things, require banks to more than triple the percentage of equity held against risk-weighted assets, said Geithner. The Treasury secretary also argued that tax breaks for the middle class and small businesses should be extended, though he was noncommittal about extending George W. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest U.S. citizens beyond this year. He was also vague on when a chair for the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would be nominated or named.

"These heightened capital requirements, along with other important reforms, should substantially reduce the likelihood that we will soon repeat the sort of severe financial crisis that we have just lived through," Geithner said in his prepared remarks.

The U.S. is among a group of nations looking to make banking standards more stringent over the next few years in an effort to prevent future financial meltdowns like the one that plunged the economy into a recession in 2007. Along with issues such as potential tax extensions, financial standards are among the points of contention between President Barack Obama and members of Congress on how to best pull the U.S. out of its economic downturn.

"Our system would've been much more stable and much more resistant to handle a recession like this if we had those requirements in place," Geithner added, in response to lawmakers' questions.

Some lawmakers have argued that such regulations may put U.S. banks at a relative disadvantage to overseas financial institutions operating in countries with less stringent capital and liquidity standards.

"We're going to have to monitor very carefully and pursue very aggressively any signs of different standards" abroad, Geithner said.

Geithner also pitched Obama's plans for financial incentives for middle-income citizens as well as small businesses, though he deflected questions about extending Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of the U.S. beyond the end of this year, noting that such cuts would be the equivalent of a $700 billion loan.

Geithner also favored what he called an "early" appointment of a director to the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Administration was criticized by commerce leaders last week after naming Harvard University professor Elizabeth Warren as an advisor to Geithner, rather than as director of the new group -- a move that exempted her from Senate approval.

When asked repeatedly what he meant by "early," Geithner would only say "early."

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Getting out of debt

Everyone hates debt. Get out of it.

View Course »

How to Buy a Car

How to get the best deal and buy a car with confidence.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

The Republicans are resorting to extortion by holding back on un-employment extentions until the rich get their tax breaks. How shameful these people call themselves Americans how dare they. I hope all of you that agree contact their congressmen senators and the White House and tell them NO MORE TAX BREAKS FOR THE RICH it has not created jobs in the 10 years they have had them. It is all a lie for the rich to get richer. It only takes mins. to e-mail or call take the time.

December 02 2010 at 9:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

He's the next economic "genious" to go and then who will Obama appoint/ Most likely more strident idealogues who hate capitalism and U.S. businesses! They won't have any business experience and will be big goverment advocates. That is because this clown will not compromise due to his ideology! He must destroy America's economic power in order to usher in globalism and socialism!!!

September 22 2010 at 10:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply