By Kevin Drawbaugh
WASHINGTON, Jan 13 (Reuters) – Top executives of Wall Street’s biggest banks acknowledged broad failures as they testified to a U.S. commission looking into the financial crisis, while the White House said an industry apology was in order.
With U.S. unemployment near a 26-year-high after the worst recession in decades, public fury is growing over the cost of taxpayer bailouts and huge bonuses for bankers, now that the industry has rebounded from the 2008 meltdown.
The top executives acknowledged mistakes in managing risk but defended their pay packages and called for modest regulatory changes.
Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein was compelled to defend his firm’s role in creating subprime mortgage-backed securities at the center of the financial crisis, while at the same time shorting them, or betting they would lose value.
Blankfein said professional investors were still demanding these products, but the chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission was skeptical.