|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:||
CONTACT: Jesse Jacobs
|Tuesday, January 22, 2002||
Senator Paul S. Sarbanes, the Chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, today called for the development of a "national strategy to promote financial literacy and education" and announced that the full Committee will hold two hearings in early February "to improve our understanding of the dimensions of this issue and to solicit recommendations for addressing it."
Sarbanes has confirmed the participation of Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt, as well as representatives from organizations with expertise on the issues involved.
"This issue touches all Americans – at every age and income level -- as they attempt to make the sound financial decisions required in everyday life," said Sarbanes. "In this increasingly complex financial marketplace, too many people are victims of scam artists and unscrupulous operators, in part because they lack adequate financial education."
"Moreover, millions of Americans are 'unbanked' and must rely on high-cost fringe financial services to conduct everyday transactions like paying bills; these Americans should be educated as well as encouraged to join the mainstream banking system. At the same time, personal and household debt are at historically high levels -- especially among college students, who frequently graduate with stifling credit card debt -- and Americans are feeling jittery on their financial investments and retirement plans. The time has clearly come to develop a national strategy through which the public and private sectors can work together to improve the state of financial education and literacy in America."
The hearing schedule is as follows:
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2002
216 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
Scheduled to testify:
This hearing was initially scheduled for September 20, 2001; however, in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Committee focused instead on the safety and soundness of the financial system following the attacks.
"I am pleased that these three distinguished individuals have agreed to come back before the Committee. In doing so they are recognizing the importance of financial literacy and education in helping people make the financial choices necessary to give them the opportunity to succeed in our society," Sarbanes added.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2002
538 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
Scheduled to appear before the Committee are:
"These groups cover the broad spectrum of issues related to financial literacy and education, from school-aged children to young people who are handling credit for the first time, first-time mortgage borrowers, and those who are trying to save enough for retirement. The testimony of these witnesses on the need for improved financial literacy and education will help to inform our development of a national strategy to address this critical issue," Sarbanes concluded.