Yellen defends Dodd-Frank regs Trump has vowed to unwind

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Federal Reserve Board Chairwoman Janet Yellen has asked lawmakers and regulators to only make “modest” changes to the Dodd-Frank Act, the sweeping banking rules President Trump and Republicans have promised to dismantle, arguing they’ve bolstered and protected the economy.

In a Friday speech in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Yellen said that there is room to improve Dodd-Frank and reduce its burden, but that it’s critical to preserve the bulk of the law to prevent future crisis, according to prepared remarks.

“We can never be sure that new crises will not occur, but if we keep this lesson fresh in our memories — along with the painful cost that was exacted by the recent crisis — and act accordingly,” Yellen said, “we have reason to hope that the financial system and economy will experience fewer crises and recover from any future crisis more quickly.”

Yellen’s defense of regulations put into place following the financial crisis of the previous decade puts her at odds with Trump, who has called the Dodd-Frank law a “disaster” and repeatedly vowed to roll it back.

Yellen’s term as Fed chief expires in February. Trump is reportedly considering both Yellen and Gary Cohn, a top economic adviser to the president, for the position.


In her speech, Yellen said some key policymakers suffer from “fading” memories about the excessive risk that triggered the 2007 financial crisis and subsequent recession, sending unemployment skyrocketing and causing a global economic panic.

Republicans have long sought changes to Dodd-Frank, which they consider a bloated, overreaching law that suffocates U.S. business and hurts banks and firms that didn’t cause the crisis.

{mosads}The GOP-controlled government has attempted to roll back major chunks of the law, including a massive House rewrite that has seen no action in the Senate. Regulators have already started reviewing changes to parts of the law that have received bipartisan support, such as scaling back the Volcker Rule which bans banks from making certain trades with their own capital.

Yellen has supported smaller changes to Dodd-Frank, like clarifying the Volcker Rule and adjusting the threshold at which a bank becomes big enough for tougher federal oversight. She’s also supportive of reviewing how certain bank capital requirements can compensate for each other, noting a lack of credit available for people with spotty credit histories and small businesses with limited histories.

But Yellen argues that the bulk of Dodd-Frank has helped create a safer, stronger economy that’s seen banks reach record profits, the stock market hit new highs and unemployment fall below the Fed’s ideal threshold.

“While no single factor appears to be the predominant cause of the evolution of market liquidity, some regulations may be affecting market liquidity somewhat,” Yellen said. “At the same time, the new regulatory framework overall has made dealers more resilient to shocks [and] any adjustments to the regulatory framework should be modest.” 

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