As loyal readers of this column may have noticed by now, I've been pretty supportive of the Trump Administration. However, I do part ways with it when it comes to financial regulation and the dismantling of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Some of the reforms enacted by the Obama Administration after the global financial crisis, namely the Dodd-Frank Act, may have overdone it a bit in terms of increased bank regulation. And certainly, the CFPB under its former director, Richard Cordray, grossly overreached in how it regulates and punishes lenders, often unfairly. Still, that doesn't mean we need to go back to the days before the financial crisis and plant the seeds for another one in the future.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, despite her recklessly pandering and unworkable ideas like wealth taxes and Medicare for All has been right on reining in the banks. While Dodd-Frank did impose some needed restrictions on what banks do, it clearly hasn't done enough in some areas – like curbing criminal behavior – and the rollbacks enacted by the Trump Administration go in the wrong direction. Besides, the banks have managed to make plenty of money under these restrictions.
Right now, two banks, JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America have well over $2 trillion in assets, while two others, Wells Fargo and Citigroup, are just below that mark. Wells Fargo would have gone over that level except for the fact that it is restrained from growing its assets by an unprecedented Federal Reserve order due to its many scandals over the past several years. Those are pretty dangerous levels if you ask me – certainly Too Big to Fail dangerous.
But one of the worst ideas the Trump Administration is pushing now is returning Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to the private sector. Essentially, it would re-establish the status quo ante the 2008 financial crisis. Continue reading "If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It"