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Obama talks about economy, immigration in meeting with bankers

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the budget alongside acting Director of Office of Management and Budget Jeff Zients, in the
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the budget alongside acting Director of Office of Management and Budget Jeff Zients, in the

By Douwe Miedema

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama stressed the need to revive the economy and reform immigration and fiscal policy during a meeting on Thursday with some of the world's most powerful bankers.

The White House had set the agenda for the meeting, a source familiar with the situation said, and the ongoing reform of Wall Street - a hot issue for bank lobbyists - did not appear prominently on the list of topics.

"The president discussed with the business leaders the need to work together on a number of important issues affecting business confidence, economic growth and job creation," a White House official said in an emailed statement.

Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein was at the meeting, as were Jamie Dimon, the head of JP Morgan Chase, James Gorman of Morgan Stanley and Brian Moynihan, who heads Bank of America.

The group, which included representatives from the insurance and asset management industries, left the White House at noon in two vans without speaking to the press. They had been inside for roughly an hour.

The bankers were all members of the Financial Services Forum, which was holding its day-long spring meeting, according to the White House official. The Forum, a prominent bank lobby, said the dialogue had been "constructive."

Washington politicians - and even some regulators - have become more critical of the overhaul of the financial sector after the 2007-09 crisis through laws like the 2010 Dodd-Frank reforms and regulatory agreements such as the Basel III capital accord.

Two senators, for instance, have introduced a plan that would force banks to raise far more equity to fund their business, something that would be so costly that the largest banks might need to break up their business.

But while the "safety and soundness" of the financial system was on the agenda, according to a second person familiar with the situation, it was only one of many topics, such as immigration, cyber-security and the U.S. budget.

Dimon and Moynihan met Obama last month with other business leaders to discuss cyber attacks, seeking a "light touch" from the government in response to the risk, which they agreed were a top security threat.

(Additional reporting by Lauren Tara LaCapra in New York; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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