Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on Wednesday called on banks that received government aid during the financial crisis to boost lending, saying limitations on credit availability for small businesses may slow the nation's recovery.
"We need banks to be working with us, not against recovery," Geithner said, kicking off a daylong Obama administration summit aimed at devising ways to strengthen the flow of credit to small businesses.
"The recovery in earnings across the banking system … is not because the surviving banks are particularly smart and clever," Geithner said. "It's because the taxpayers of the United States and their elected representatives decided that to save the economy, we had to save the financial system."
Geithner, however, defended the rebound in bank earnings, suggesting the more positive figures are necessary for the economy to rebound. Meanwhile, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair said she expects "credit losses will continue to hold down" earnings in the banking sector.
Geithner said that since banks bear at least some responsibility for the financial crisis, they are obligated to help communities recover. He said that the Obama administration is committed to doing more to help small businesses access the credit they need.