On Monday morning, President Donald Trump floated the idea of a so-called 21st century Glass-Steagall Act, in which the largest banks in the United States would be broken up.
As it turns out, some of the most powerful minds in finance view such a maneuver as a “dream scenario” as President Trump enacts his agenda of tax cuts, financial deregulation, healthcare reform and infrastructure spending. Ken Griffin, the billionaire founder of hedge fund giant Citadel said at the Milken Global Institute conference in Beverly Hills, California he is in favor of a bank breakup.
“My fantasy is we actually break up the big banks,” Griffin told an audience of big name investors and corporate executives. Griffin argues that the size and scale of banks has made them uncompetitive and prevented innovation in the industry. Other sectors, where power isn’t concentrated at the top, allow for entrepreneurs and private investors to bring new models.
“Banking is shielded from good governance by the Federal Reserve, banking is shielded by innovation by the Fed,” Griffin said, citing regulations such as a 10% cap on ownership. But Griffin isn’t much of a believer that bank breakup is in the cards, despite Trump’s proclamations. “I wish we would end too big to fail in the banking system, but of course we are not.”
About the Trump administration’s first 100 days, Griffin said that while little real legislation has been accomplished, the business-friendly tone set by Washington augurs well for the economy. “If you look at a checklist for accomplishments it is a little thin. But there is a tone at the top, and it is a new day in America,” Griffin told the audience of hundreds at the Beverly Hills Hilton.
The weight of regulation in industries ranging from financial services to energy has been lifted, he said, “That is a really positive for America.” Griffin said the deregulatory bias may help accelerate growth after a recovery he says failed to raise living standards in the country. “What is frustrating about this recovery is it hasn’t been as strong as it needs to be to raise living standards.”
Concerns Griffin has ranges from the tough work ahead to enact legislation, in addition to a mature business cycle that may eventually risk tipping into recession. He held his most pointed comments to the anti-immigrant tone in Washington. “I am terrified,” Griffin said. “Our entire country is built on the intelligence and work ethic of immigrants.”
That said Griffin is on-board the Trump agenda. “I really wish them success with the rest of their agenda.”