We convene this hearing in an atmosphere and with a focus very different from that which we had planned. Our original intention was to begin a series of hearings on financial literacy, a critical subject for all Americans, with three principals of the financial markets - the Secretary of the Treasury, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission - to open the discussion. That subject remains a matter of great importance, and we will return to it at an appropriate time. Today, however, in the wake of last week's unspeakably savage attacks, we focus on the condition of the U.S. financial markets.
Ten days ago we witnessed devastation that words remain inadequate to convey. Someday, perhaps, economic historians will catalog, analyze and calculate the terrible losses inflicted by the terrorist attacks directed at New York and Washington. But some losses - families torn apart, communities devastated - will remain forever beyond calculation.
At the same time, in the wake of the attacks whose magnitude Americans could only begin to discern, we saw the immediate response of our firefighters and police officers, emergency workers and volunteers. It was a response of astounding resolution and courage, giving the world, as a New York Times editorial put it, "a vision of the valor and selflessness that is the best face of America." None of us will ever forget them, and I want to pay tribute to their steady courage today.
It gave us, in addition, an inspiring vision of calm determination, of steely resolve and of unity in a common endeavor. Their example must guide us as we turn to the challenge of rooting out terrorism. They must guide us, as well, as we carry on with our fundamental responsibilities - caring for our families, educating our children, doing our jobs in a sustained and productive manner, reinforcing the fundamental strength of our economy and the financial markets whose functioning is essential to it.
In New York, the center of the nation's and indeed the world's financial markets, we can see a phoenix rising from the ashes. Given the wreckage in downtown Manhattan, few thought it possible that our markets would open for business on Monday. The fact that they did, and the infrastructure held - on record volume - is a tribute to thousands of committed individuals in both the private and the public sectors who went back to work under very difficult circumstances, having lost friends, colleagues, neighbors, and in some instances, family members.
Our capital markets are the most effective in the world and our witnesses are to be commended, along with so many others, for the role they played in ensuring that the United States' financial system continues to operate efficiently. New York remains the world's financial capital. The response of our witnesses to the crisis was coordinated, timely and effective. They prevented the situation from becoming worse by taking decisive and carefully considered action.
This morning we will hear from the Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O'Neill, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Alan Greenspan, the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Harvey Pitt, as well as from the Chairman and CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Grasso, the CEO of the NASDAQ Stock Market, Hardwick Simmons, and the CEO and President of the NASD, Robert Glauber.
As Chairman of the President's Working Group on financial markets, Secretary O'Neill has led the inter-agency coordination of the government's response to the attacks on our financial center. Secretary O'Neill, as the Administration's point person on both fiscal and economic matters, has also been engaged in evaluating the potential effects of last week's events on the U.S. economy and in particular, on the airline and insurance industries. Under Chairman Greenspan's leadership, the Federal Reserve took several critical steps to ensure that the financial community was able to meet its liquidity needs. In addition, the Fed coordinated policy with other central banks throughout the world including the European Central Bank, the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England, and helped coordinate the bank regulatory process here at home along with the other bank regulators. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Pitt has done an outstanding job in coordinating industry efforts to reopen our securities markets in the wake of last week's tragic events. Once the scope of the damage to our financial community became clear, the SEC quickly issued the relief necessary to enable issuers, exchanges and securities firms to get back into business. I look forward to hearing about our witnesses' activities in more detail shortly, when we turn to our first panel.
Our other witnesses are also well known to the Committee. It has been said that Richard Grasso, the Chairman and CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, is the right man at the right time for the job. Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin was quoted in the New York Times this week as saying "Dick is exactly what they need now... He is ideally suited to this." I would agree with that assessment. Wick Simmons is relatively new as the CEO of the Nasdaq Stock Market, having been appointed to that position on February 1, 2001, but by all accounts he has been doing an excellent job of helping to coordinate industry's response. And few people bring more experience to market disturbances than Robert Glauber, who authored the Reagan Administration's recommendations in the aftermath of the October 1987 market break.
This morning we will want to hear from our witnesses their assessment of the impact of last week's events on the condition of the financial markets as well as the impact on the economy, the adequacy of our response thus far, and what more needs to be done. I look forward to hearing their testimony.
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