GOP House Guts Dodd-Frank Financial Regulations, Inviting Next Financial Disaster

Posted June 21, 2017

MP3 Interview with Morris Pearl, chairman of Patriotic Millionaires and former managing director at BlackRock, conducted by Scott Harris


The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed the so-called, Financial CHOICE Act on June 8,which would gut the 2010 Dodd-Frank banking regulation law by a party line vote of 233 to 186. The overall objective of the GOP bill is to eliminate much of the oversight of the nation’s banks that was imposed after the 2008 financial meltdown, the worst economic crisis in the U.S. since the Great Depression.

Despite Trump administration and Republican party claims that the Dodd-Frank regulations have hobbled U.S. banks, Wall Street and banks large and small across the nation have been healthy and profitable since the passage of Dodd-Frank. If approved by the U.S. Senate, the legislation would remove rules to prevent risky investment strategies that could trigger another banking crisis, weaken protections for mortgage borrowers and military veterans, and restrict predatory lenders. The bill would also erode the enforcement power of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau established in 2011.

Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Morris Pearl, chairman of Patriotic Millionaires, who is a former managing director at BlackRock, Inc., one of the largest investment firms in the world. Here, Pearl explains why he believes the GOP vote to severely weaken the Dodd-Frank banking regulations law is courting disaster. [Rush transcript]

MORRIS PEARL: We had a huge financial crisis starting in 2008, the year before Obama took over as president. That was caused in part, by a lot of things, but in part by really reckless behavior of some of the bank executives. Now, the Republican Congress is trying to convince America it was caused by the Dodd-Frank Act that was signed in July of 2010, that somehow that's the reason why small businesses had trouble getting bank loans in that time, even though it was about two years later that the Dodd-Frank Act was signed. So we think it's just ridiculous. They want to kind of turn back the clock. We go through cycles of sort of the banks having lots of power and the government regulators getting more power. Now the Congress, the Republican-ruled Congress, says they will have to turn the clock back, since the government regulators, the representative of the people have too much power. And we need to get more power to the banks and the bank executives who run those banks. And I just think that's wrong.

You know, we were not in the right place before that was passed prior to 2010. We had a huge crisis and we brought in some new laws, rules and regulations to prevent another crisis like that, to prevent some of the problems, and the Republican Congress says "No, that's a bad idea" and they want to undo all that.

It's just wrong, it's wrong for America. It's wrong for small businesses, for investors. And in particular, it's wrong for most banks. It's not going to help the banks to turn that back. The United States and New York, where I live is the financial capital of the world because of our strong regulatory infrastructure. Because our government regulators give people all over the world confidence to send their money to invest in America. And if we want to be less regulated, well, there's lots of countries of less regulation. You could send your money to lots of countries if you wanted an unregulated financial system. That's not the way it's going succeed for America.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Morris, just a final question here. If the Senate does pass some of these key House provisions in this legislation and critical parts of the Dodd-Frank bill are removed or eroded, what is the jeopardy the nation faces overall? Are we going to see a return to credit default swaps and derivatives that were abused by so many on Wall Street that in part triggered the financial crisis that we saw hit the country and the world in 2008?

MORRIS PEARL: I don't know if we're going to see the exact same problem again. Probably not. The people who – there are still people that remember 2008, it's only nine years. What we'll see is the executives who run the banks going back to the attitude that well, if I make a lot of money, if could do something really risky it might win and it might lose. Like if you bet on black at a roulette table, you might win, you might lose. Well, if I win, I'll make a huge amount of money and be able to retire and support my family and bless my wife for not having to work anymore. And if I lose, well, I'll lose my job and I'll get another job. And the taxpayers will be stuck with it. That's what we're going back to, and I don't think that's good. I mean, that's wrong. It has this huge agency problem, because the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which is part of the government, guarantees the deposits of the depositers and if the banks are allowed to take more risks that really means that government is sort of guaranteeing your deposits. You don't worry about what the bank does when you make a deposit in your checking account. You don't do research on how the bank invests the money or how they make loans. You don't need to because we've got an FDIC which guarantees your deposits. So there's no invisible end of the marketplace – "Oh, people won't deposit money in risky banks." Well, they will if the risky bank offers slightly higher interest rates. And so it's a "well, head, I win; tails, somebody else loses" for these actual people that work in the bank. And that's not good. We will have another crisis. It won't be the exact same thing again; it will be a different kind of crisis. But, we will have another crisis, eventually.

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