President Trump on Friday signed a pair of directives meant to begin rolling back provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was adopted by the Obama administration in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
Trump signed an executive order calling for revisions to major provisions of Dodd-Frank. A second executive action calls for an overhaul of a rule requiring brokers to act in their client's best interest, rather than seeking their own highest profits.
The first directive proposes "guideline principles that sets the table for a regulatory system that mitigates risks, encourages growth, and more importantly, protects consumers," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said just prior to Trump signing the directives.
"The Dodd-Frank Act is a disastrous policy that's hindering our markets, reducing the availability of credit, and crippling our economy's ability to grow and create jobs," Spicer said. "It imposed hundreds of new regulations on financial institutions, while establishing unaccountable and unconstitutional new agencies that do not adequately protect consumers. Perhaps worst of all, despite all of its overreaching, Dodd-Frank did not address the causes of the financial crisis, something we all know must be done. It did not solve the too-big-to-fail, and we must determine conclusively that the failure of a large bank will never leave the taxpayers on the hook."
Executive orders on their own can't rescind Dodd-Frank but, according to Spicer, they are the first in what is expected to be a wide-ranging series of moves on the regulations.
"There's two aspects of this. There's the administrative piece, which [Trump] is starting to address through executive action, and then there's the legislative piece, which we're going to work with congress on," Spicer said.
In comments in the days leading up to the signing, Trump said his administration was "going to be a doing a big number on Dodd-Frank," which he called "a disaster."
"We expect to be cutting a lot out of Dodd-Frank, because, frankly, I have so many people, friends of mine that have nice businesses, that can't borrow money, they just can't get any money because the banks just won't let them borrow because of the rules and regulations in Dodd-Frank," Trump said during a meeting with his Strategy and Policy Forum at the White House Friday morning. The group is led by JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and executives of other major U.S. companies.
But, according to Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform, the directives illustrate best Trump's close ties to huge finance companies like Goldman Sachs. The president has nominated Goldman Sachs veteran Steven Mnuchin to be Treasury Secretary, and appointed others from Goldman Sachs as his Chief Strategist, Director of the National Economic Council, and Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
"The administration apparently plans to turn over financial regulation to Wall Street titan Goldman Sachs, making it easier for Goldman and other big banks like Wells Fargo to steal from their customers and destabilize the economy," Donner said. "That betrays the promises Trump made to stand up to Wall Street, and it will have dire consequences if he's successful."
Separately, Congress on Friday was also tackling a portion of Dodd-Frank, with the Senate approving by a 52-47 vote HJ Res 41, which expresses congressional disapproval of the SEC's disclosure rule for resource extraction. The joint resolution was approved by the House Thursday.
The sweeping Dodd-Frank legislation was signed into law by former President Obama in July 2010. Of particular interest to the energy industry, the legislation, which came nearly two years after the collapse of banks and Wall Street investment houses, marked the first time that the over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives market would be regulated by the federal government. It required OTC transactions to be traded on regulated exchanges much like stock, and to be cleared in clearinghouses in order to limit excessive speculation in markets.