Bank shares reach post-crisis high as Trump administration starts to loosen rules

US investor optimism is soaring, as the process to amend the Volcker rule has pushed stocks to levels not seen since before the financial crisis

 
Paul Volcker, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, after whom the Volcker Rule is named 
Author: Luján Scarpinelli
August 2, 2017

Hopes for bank deregulation pushed US financial stocks to their highest level in a nearly a decade on August 1. Bank shares climbed as investors anticipated the beginning of the process to amend the Volcker Rule, an integral aspect of the regulations imposed to control banks after the 2008 financial crisis.

On August 2, the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which supervises national banks, is expected to formally start seeking public comment about the functioning of the law from bank and other concerned entities, according to the Financial Times.

There are analysts who oppose the loosening of the rules on Wall Street, and hold that removing the Volcker Rule may increase risks

The market is enthusiastic about getting rid of the rule that bans banks from speculating with their money. Shares in some of the biggest American banks reflected the optimism: Citigroup, Bank of America and JPMorgan climbed more than one percent on August 1, and pushed the S&P 500 to a pre-crisis level.

Despite the positive response from investors, however, there are analysts who oppose the loosening of the rules on Wall Street, and hold that removing the Volcker Rule may increase risks and eventually trigger another crisis.

The rule, named after former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, took effect in 2015. “The rule is meant to stop banks with taxpayer-protected deposits from taking on big risks that can lead to large losses and possibly further bailouts,” according to Bloomberg.

But now, under the Trump administration, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and financial regulators are set to rewrite the rulebook for the financial sector. What’s more, investor hopes go further, as many think this may be the first step towards the wider loosening of regulations promised by Trump during his election campaign.

As Brant Houston, Managing Director at CIBC Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management, told the Financial Times: “The path is a little clearer for some regulatory relief.”