The New York Post
February 13, 2017
The Trump administration is digging in for a financial cold war — to gut the 2010 post-financial crisis Dodd-Frank consumer laws introduced to protect Americans from another Great Depression.
And the controversial Trump campaign faces angry critics who oppose this new world order in American banking — with measures that could flood the US economy with more capital.
Critics took their campaign to the streets of New York last week, encircling Goldman Sachs’ headquarters and chanting, “Keep Dodd-Frank!”
“Look, Dodd-Frank could definitely do with some reform,” Richard Roberts, a former commissioner at the Securities and Exchange Commission appointed by President George H.W. Bush, told The Post. “It was hastily prepared,” added Roberts, previously chief of staff to Sen. Richard Shelby, before the senior Republican lawmaker from Alabama switched from the Democratic side. “It is way too voluminous, and it does raise some real questions.”
Consumer advocates dismiss talk of any changes to the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.
“Trump rolled out an executive order to cut Dodd-Frank, and to get rid of regulation that would protect against a financial crisis like the last time,” said Jonathan Westin, executive director of New York Communities for Change, a group critical of Goldman Sachs’ outsized role in the Oval Office.
Added Westin: “They [the administration] are talking about getting rid of [Dodd-Frank’s] Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which is one of the main agencies that went after Wells Fargo when it was creating fake bank accounts.”
Trumps’ campaign to upend Dodd-Frank, a 22,000-page document, could see the abolition of the ban on proprietary trading at Wall Street banks and on predatory lending. It also targets the “fiduciary rule” that, if it goes into effect, would require brokers to put their clients’ interest first — but also impede investor choice, analysts say.
In Congress, Republicans have already pressed to ease requirements on small- and medium-sized banks, and to curb the appetite for regulators to introduce new rules.
More broadly, Trump wants a top-down review of Dodd-Frank, a move that could ultimately open the spigots to less restrictive lending rules, and ease banks’ capital requirements.
Rebecca Walser, chief executive of Walser Wealth Management, sees what’s happening. She says Dodd-Frank has disproportionately handicapped most of her small business clients, since capital for expansion is choked off by these requirements.
“One client in Tampa who runs a services company with as many as 20 employees has had strong double-digit growth in the last six years — revenues of $3 million, up from $900,000 — and yet he can’t get his $150,000 line of credit bumped up by his local bank during this same period,” Walser said, noting the massive industry consolidation among loan-constrained community banks and the law’s heavy compliance costs.
The number of small community banks declined 14 percent between 2010 and 2014.
Walser added, “Dodd-Frank in particular has hurt smaller businesses, the engine of jobs growth in the American economy.”
Walser said a return to the industry’s “Wild West days” of mad speculation should be avoided. But not, she says, with the same full-blown response of Dodd-Frank.
“There needs to be a happy medium,” she said.
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