Get PolitiFact in your inbox.

Lauren Carroll
By Lauren Carroll July 15, 2015

Hillary Clinton says she called for Wall Street regulations early in the financial crisis

Hillary Clinton has a reputation for being cozy with Wall Street -- but in her 2016 campaign, she’s been striking populist tones.

Clinton introduced her plan for a variety of economic issues in a speech at the New School in Manhattan on July 14, 2015. As president, she said, she would go "beyond Dodd-Frank" -- the regulations on financial institutions that took hold in 2010, following the economic crisis of 2007-08.

She said she had been calling for financial regulations since the very early stages of the crisis.

"As we all know, in the years before the crash, financial firms piled risk upon risk, and regulators in Washington either couldn’t or wouldn’t keep up," she said. "I was alarmed by this gathering storm and called for addressing risks of derivatives, cracking down on subprime mortgages and improving financial oversight."

Clinton used to be the senator from New York, the home of Wall Street. She has a history of campaign backing from the finance industry and of delivering high-priced speeches to finance firms, such as Goldman Sachs. And her husband, former President Bill Clinton, signed the repeal of a bank break-up bill, the Glass-Steagall Act -- a deregulation that some critics believe contributed to the financial crisis.

So we questioned Hillary Clinton’s record of addressing financial regulations. Did she address derivatives, subprime mortgages and financial oversight so early in the crisis?

The 2008 primary campaign

While the financial crisis came to a head in summer 2008, problems with housing started to bubble up in 2007 during Clinton’s ill-fated presidential primary campaign. On the trail, Clinton addressed these nascent issues -- particularly the mortgage crisis -- as early as March of that year.

Clinton, still a senator at the time, delivered a speech on the volatility of the subprime mortgage market on March 15, 2007. She said too many people were ignoring warning signs.

"The subprime problems are now creating massive issues on Wall Street," Clinton said. "It's a serious problem affecting our housing market and millions of hard-working families."

She gave specific proposals for addressing subprime mortgages, including expanding the role of the Federal Housing Administration, more borrowing options for underprivileged and first-time homebuyers, more safeguards against predatory lending practices and policies intended to prevent foreclosures.

In August that year, she delivered a similar speech about dealing with problems from subprime mortgages. There, she reiterated earlier proposals, and also suggested laws establishing national standards and registration for loan brokers, as well as regulations on lenders.

Featured Fact-check

"I think the subprime market was sort of like the canary in the mine," she said. "You know, it was telling us loudly and clearly, ‘There are problems here.’ "

It didn’t become law, but Clinton sponsored a bill to implement these policies in September 2007.

The first time she mentioned derivatives was in a November 2007 speech in Iowa.  (A derivative is a financial product that allows investors to hedge against price fluctuations in an underlying asset.)

"We need to start addressing the risks posed by derivatives and other complex financial products," she said. "You can't let Wall Street send the bill to your street with the bright ideas that just don't work out. Derivatives and products like them are posing real risks to families, as Wall Street writes down tens of billions of dollars in investments. Companies are taking the loss of a billion here and a billion there simply because the securities they own are worth less than they thought."

In the same speech, she spoke again of the risky lending that led to the subprime mortgage crisis, adding that she called on then-President George W. Bush to convene a conference to find a solution.

And she also pushed for more oversight of financial markets: "So as president, I will move to establish the 21st-century oversight we need in a 21st-century global marketplace. I will call for an immediate review of these new investment products and for plans to make them more transparent."

This November speech angered some of Clinton’s Wall Street donors, according to the New York Times.

At the tail-end of her campaign, in March 2008 -- still before the financial crisis hit a peak later that summer -- Clinton released a six-point plan to increase financial regulation. The plan included, in part, more oversight of derivatives and other new financial products, establishment of mortgage standards and strengthened some consumer protections.

After becoming secretary of state in 2009, Clinton made noticeably fewer comments on domestic policy and financial regulation. But the record shows that establishing policies to address the then-nascent financial crisis was a key point of her campaign platform in 2007 and 2008.

Our ruling

Clinton said she "called for addressing risks of derivatives, cracking down on subprime mortgages and improving financial oversight" early on in the financial crisis.

The crisis hit a peak in summer 2008, though it started to gain traction in 2007. Clinton began addressing the subprime mortgage issue in her appearances in March 2007. Later that year, she took on derivatives. She also proposed specific plans for solving these problems and increasing oversight of financial institutions.

Her statement is accurate, and we rate her claim True.

Our Sources

Hillary Clinton remarks in Manhattan, July 13, 2015

PolitiFact, "An early voice on foreclosures," May 1, 2008

Hillary for President, "Hillary Calls On Wall Street To Address Housing Crisis," Dec. 5, 2007

Hillary for President, "Clinton Calls for Immediate Action to Strengthen Financial Market Regulation and Help Keep Families in Their Homes," March 31, 2008

Hillary for President, "Speech on Housing and the Mortgage Crisis," Aug. 7, 2007

Hillary for President, "Speech on Subprime Lending," march 17, 2015

CNN, "Clinton's November 19, 2007, speech on economic challenges"

The Guardian, "Global financial crisis: five key stages 2007-2011," Aug. 7, 2011

Politico Magazine, "Why Wall Street Loves Hillary," Nov. 11, 2014

New York Times, "Wall Street Offers Clinton a Thorny Embrace," July 7, 2014

New York Times, "Economic Plan Is a Quandary for Hillary Clinton’s Campaign," Feb, 7, 2015

New York Times, "Campaign Casts Hillary Clinton as the Populist It Insists She Has Always Been," April 21, 2015

CQ, bill and floor speech archive search, July 13, 2015

LexisNexis, archive search, July 13, 2015

Email interview, Clinton spokesman Josh Schwerin, July 13, 2015

Phone interview, journalist William Cohan, July 13, 2015

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Lauren Carroll

Hillary Clinton says she called for Wall Street regulations early in the financial crisis

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up