Despite offering his name to the regulation—alongside former Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT) —Frank said there are some improvements to be made, including his opinion that the $50 billion asset threshold, used to mark U.S. banks deemed systematically significant, was too low. Already, a relatively small number of banks fit the criteria that subject them to more supervision and higher standards. The top 10 U.S. banks are subjected to stricter rules reserved for banks with assets above $250 billion.
Frank also said reforms were needed to help banks with assets under $10 billion from overspending on compliance for the same provisions faced by the bigger banks.
“Any comprehensive legislation needs some changes,” said Frank. “If the Republicans hadn’t taken over the House in 2011, with an avowed purpose to get rid of the whole thing, we would have made the changes.”
But changes to the existing regulatory framework may end up being much broader in scope.
On Friday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order, directing the Treasury secretary to submit recommendations within 120 days for changes to the financial system regulations enacted under the 2010 law.
The act is an omnibus of rules that prevent banks from engaging in certain speculative investments with their own money and requires them to have higher capital levels. It also mandates investment advisors to act in the interest of their clients in a rule that was due to launch in April, but in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump’s chief economic adviser gave non-verbal indication the rule could be rescinded.
Dodd-Frank also established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that protects consumers against risky practices by banks.
Critics of Dodd-Frank said the stringent rules discouraged lending and burdened smaller banks unnecessarily.
Frank agreed in part with the latter criticism, but insisted the bulk of the regulation was against negative practices carried out by financial institutions—such as making loans to mortgage holders without checking their ability to pay back and incurring debt in complex derivative transations beyond what they could pay. It was not about lending, he said, adding there was little economic evidence that loans were withheld.
“This was not a decision by a group of politicians to make it harder to run the banks…this was a response to a pattern of irreponsibility and error,” said Frank.
Details of the changes are not yet known, but experts speculate they could involve ways to get banks to lend more to consumers. It is likely that any sweeping changes would need approval from the Senate.
— CNBC’s Jeff Cox contributed to this report.