For years, Wall Street has complained that restrictions placed on the industry after the financial crisis went too far and were too costly. Those concerns didn’t generate much sympathy — until now.
President Trump has opened the door for sweeping changes to the way financial institutions — big and small — are regulated. He signed an executive order calling for a review of the laws that govern the U.S. financial system in an opening bid to upend the Dodd-Frank Act, the financial overhaul passed in 2010.
Banks and other financial institutions are dusting off their wish lists in hopes of trimming, if not killing, some of the most costly portions of the law. The country’s biggest banks will spend $100 billion over the next five years complying with regulations, said Mike Mayo, a banking analyst with CLSA, a boutique investment firm.
“Dodd-Frank was enacted to prevent another financial crisis,” Mayo said. “And it was done quickly and with purpose, but it was not done efficiently for the industry.”
Of course, dismantling the legislation will not be easy. It took more than a year to pass and is composed of hundreds of regulations issued by more than half a dozen agencies. Some pieces of the bill required the approval of several federal agencies and would be cumbersome to revisit. After hiring thousands of people to help digest the new rules, some big banks say they are not looking for another time-consuming change.
Large financial institutions now must hold onto more capital, a measure of a bank’s ability to absorb losses, and endure yearly “stress tests” to prove that they could survive economic calamity. But that hasn’t stopped some from getting bigger anyway. JPMorgan Chase now has nearly $2.5 trillion in assets, up from about $2.2 trillion in 2008. Wells Fargo has grown even faster, now holding $1.9 trillion in assets compared with $1.3 trillion in 2008.
“We’re not asking for wholesale throwing out of Dodd-Frank,” Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, said at a financial services conference in December. James Gorman, chief executive of Morgan Stanley, told CNBC recently, “I’ll be very clear about this: I’m not a fan of getting rid of Dodd-Frank.”
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