Markets plunge following Mnuchin outreach to banks

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 400 points Monday morning, following a weekend attempt by Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report — Sanders, Dems zero in on Super Tuesday Bloomberg proposes financial transaction tax GOP senators offering bill to cement business provision in Trump tax law MORE to calm the markets.

Mnuchin said Sunday that he spoke with the heads of six major banks — Bank of America, Citi, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo — and reported that they had "ample liquidity."

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He also said he would convene a call with the president's working group on financial markets and a group of key regulators.

But the unusual message may have backfired, with analysts noting that the group Mnuchin was calling together was the same as the "Plunge Protection Team" that met at the height of the 2009 financial crisis.

Markets have also been spooked by reports that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll MORE is looking to fire Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. The move would be seen as undermining the Fed's institutional independence, which is a key element in the country's financial system.

U.S. stock markets early Monday continued a decline that last week saw the Dow's worst trading week in a decade. Traders will have a shortened day on Christmas Eve and markets will be closed on Tuesday for the Christmas holiday.