At a Thursday news conference, president Barack Obama said demonstrators picketing against Wall Street are expressing the frustrations of the American public.
"People are frustrated and the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works," he said.
Obama added that he understands the public's concerns regarding the structure of the nation's financial system. Occupy Wall Street has been ongoing since Sept. 17 in New York, and has spread to other cities across the country.
"The American people understand that not everybody's been following the rules," he said.
While Obama recognized the feelings behind the protests, he stressed that U.S. must have a strong and effective financial sector for the economy to grow. He pointed to his financial regulation bill, which is designed to make sure there is tougher oversight of the financial industry.
With that in mind, Obama also noted that many of the financial sector's moves that precipitated the nation's 2008 crisis were not necessarily illegal and thus not subject to prosecution. He said many financial schemes were likely immoral, inappropriate or reckless — and that dramatized the need for more regulation.