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Trump moves to roll back financial regulation

By AFP   |   03 February 2017   |   12:44 pm  

US President Donald Trump gestures before signing an executive action on rebuilding the armed forces on January 27, 2017 at the Pentagon in Washington, DC. Looking on are US Vice President Mike Pence (L) and US Defense Secretary James Mattis.<br />MANDEL NGAN / AFP

President Donald Trump will on Friday move to roll back key reforms enacted after the 2008 financial crisis, in what the White House sees as an effort to cut damaging red tape.

Officials say Trump will sign two executive actions asking the Treasury and the Labor Department to look into ways of reforming rules that were designed to make markets safer and give consumers more protection.

One order will ask the Treasury Department to identify possible changes to a package of financial reforms — know as Dodd-Frank — enacted in 2010 by president Barack Obama.

Among other things, the legislation created the consumer financial protection bureau and required banks to keep more capital on hand to prevent over-leveraging.

The review will also target the so-called “Volcker Rule,” which curbs some speculative investments.

“(We) believe that Dodd-Frank in many respects was a piece of massive government overreach,” said a senior administration official, previewing the orders Trump will sign later Friday.

“It imposed hundreds of new regulations on financial institutions, it established an enormous amount of work and effort for financial firms,” the official said.

Republicans have made no secret of their dislike for the consumer financial protections bureau, which looks set to be targeted in the review.

Any substantial repeal of Dodd-Frank would require congressional action, but the Trump White House is keen to send a signal that it is ready to slash red tape.

“We want to have very deep, very vibrant, very open, very transparent markets without having an enormous burden of regulation,” said the official.

Another executive order to be signed takes aim at the so-called fiduciary rule, which legally obliges financial advisors to act in their clients’ best interest.

“We think this was a complete miss on what they were trying to do,” the official said, adding it had been expensive for investment firms.

The rule was scheduled to come into effect in April, but will be deferred, pending review.

“Americans are going to have better choices and better products because we’re not going to burden the banks with literally hundreds of billions of dollars of regulatory costs every year,” Trump advisor and head of the White House National Economic Council, Gary Cohn, told The Wall Street Journal.

“The banks are going to be able to price products more efficiently and more effectively to consumers,” said Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive.

Trump is signing the measures on the same day he meets with business leaders that include JP Morgan Chase CEO James Dimon and BlackRock Inc CEO Laurence Fink.

Cohn insisted that the deregulation moves “has nothing to do” with Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan or financial services giants like Citigroup or Bank of America.

“It has to do with being a player in a global market where we should, could and will have a dominant position as long as we don’t regulate ourselves out of that,” he told the newspaper.

Market analyst Jasper Lawler at the London Capital Group believes that “unwinding some of Dodd-Frank is a good thing because it will enable smaller community banks to compete, offering competition to consumers.”

However, repealing too much of Dodd-Frank “puts the entire system at risk of a repeat of 2008.

“The red line is the Volcker rule; if the big banks can engage in proprietary trading, then depositors will be put at much greater risk. The Donald has a difficult balancing act.”



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