The leash has been loosened, but banks may not care for it much.
The financial sector followed the broader market lower on Wednesday, May 23, a day after Congress passed a plan that aims to roll back post-crisis bank regulations by weakening the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.
Members of the House of Representatives voted 258 to 159 in support of the bill, which has been called the Crapo bill after its biggest proponent, Sen. Mike Crapo (R. Idaho), in a quiet session on Tuesday. Nearly all House Republicans voted in favor of the bill and 33 Democrats joined, making it one of the more bipartisan issues to take focus on Capitol Hill in this administration.
The Senate had previously voted the Republican-backed measure through its chamber in March, earning 17 Democrat votes. It now goes to President Donald Trump, who said on Twitter Wednesday that he plans to sign the measure into law "shortly."
Bank stocks responded poorly Wednesday. The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLF) - Get Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund Report fell 1.32%. Fund constituents dipped, too, with JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) - Get JPMorgan Chase & Co. Report down 1.23%, Bank of America Corp. (BAC) - Get Bank of America Corp Report down 1.88%, Citigroup Inc. (C) - Get Citigroup Inc. Report down 1.89%, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) - Get Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. Report down 1.34% and Morgan Stanley (MS) - Get Morgan Stanley Report down 1.94%.
The bill aims to leave the central structure of post-financial crisis bank regulation in place, but it would make the biggest changes to Dodd-Frank regulations since they were passed in 2010.
The measure would exempt some small and regional banks from the strictest regulations passed post-crisis. Its biggest supporters have frequently cited the Crapo bill's capacity to help struggling small and regional banks as a worthy bipartisan cause.
At the same time, the bill would look to scale back rules that were designed to protect some the country's biggest banks from absolute ruin in the event of a sudden collapse, too. Detractors have said that could leave the U.S. financial system too vulnerable to the kind of bad behavior and ripple effects that wrought the 2008 financial crisis in the first place.
Some Republicans had hoped to do away with Dodd-Frank regulations entirely, but the Crapo bill became a compromise between that camp, the White House and more moderate legislators. While the bill hopes to reduce significantly regulations put into place after the crisis, it will not touch the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the watchdog group conceived following the 2008 collapse.
Under the bill, banks with more than $50 billion in assets will no longer have to undergo yearly stress tests. It aims to raise that threshold to $250 billion in assets.
The measure would also exempt banks with less than $10 billion in assets from the Volcker rule, which generally prohibits banks from taking on majorly risky investments with their own money.