Donald Trump Promises To ‘Dismantle’ Wall Street Reform

Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump CREDIT: AP PHOTO/TED S. WARREN
Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump CREDIT: AP PHOTO/TED S. WARREN

In an interview with Reuters published on Wednesday, presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he will release an economic plan in two weeks that will undo nearly all of the financial reforms that went into effect in 2010.

“I would say it’ll be close to a dismantling of Dodd-Frank,” he said, naming the financial reform package. “Dodd-Frank is a very negative force, which has developed a very bad name.”

Trump’s comments are in stark contrast to his previous positioning of himself as a candidate who will be tough on the financial sector. Earlier this week, he criticized Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton for her ties to big banks, saying, “She’s totally controlled by Wall Street.” A longtime adviser has also promised that Trump will crack down on the industry, saying recently, “Who’s been tougher on bankers than Donald Trump?” And Trump has promised to go after “hedge fund guys” who he says are “getting away with murder.”

Dodd-Frank’s package of measures was passed in the wake of the financial crisis and a cascade of bad bets on Wall Street that dragged down the global economy. It does a number of things, but its core purpose was to rein in Wall Street’s risk-taking, better safeguard the economy if things go wrong again, and protect consumers from predatory practices.

While much of it is still in the process of being written and implemented, Dodd-Frank has already led to significant changes. Risky trades known as derivatives have begun to be moved onto transparent exchanges. The problem of “too big to fail,” which refers to the fact that a number of failing financial institutions were bailed out in the beginnings of the crisis because they were so large as to pose a risk to the entire economy, is being addressed: The amount of money banks have to have in their own reserves to cushion such blows has been increased and some large firms have been singled out as “systemically important” and put under stricter requirements. A rule is also now being implemented that bars big banks from using customers’ deposits to make bets to boost their own profits.

Consumer protection may be its biggest achievement so far, however. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau began operating in 2011, and by last year had already netted $10.1 billion in relief for 17 million Americans through its enforcement activities. That includes $2.6 billion in direct restitution as well as $7.5 billion in the form of things like debt cancellation and principal reduction. It has also netted 1.8 million people $248 million in relief from supervisory actions while it’s ordered banks to pay $286 million in civil penalties. The agency wrote new rules for mortgage lending and other products and is supervising some areas, such as credit report agencies and debt collectors, that has previously gone with little oversight.

Unlike Trump’s promises to scrap nearly the whole thing, the Democratic candidates say they will take Dodd-Frank even further. Bernie Sanders has promised to break up too big to fail banks within the first year of his administration, cap ATM fees and interest on consumer products, and institute a financial transaction tax on Wall Street. Hillary Clinton has promised to crack down on the shadow banking system that still often falls outside the purview of regulation and expand on Dodd-Frank’s rules.