After limited debate the US Senate overwhelmingly approved a further reduction in “Dodd-Frank” banking regulations introduced in 2010 to avoid another 2008 style bank generated economic collapse.
Dodd-Frank‘s primary mechanism for doing this was to require financial institutions that were “too big to fail” to withstand stress tests. The idea being that if your bank was going to need a government bail out in the event of failure, effectively making you and me the banks insurance company, that such banks need to prove that they can withstand large economic downturns by keeping enough cash (and near cash) on hand to cover their immediate debts.
If banks pass the stress test, and ALL did in June 2017, they can issue dividends and buy back their own stock (financial engineering to raise their own stock price). If they fail, they can’t. The results and some key details are published so both the markets and individual investors know which banks are stable and which ones are not.
The principle Dodd-Frank change passed in March 2018, was to increase the threshold needed to be included in the stress test, from $50B to $250B.
Banks and other large financial institutions are not evil corporations but they are run by greedy people just like you and me. When those people are given massive incentives to bring in large amounts of income to the banks, they are likely to take risks that are absurd in retrospect, just likely they did in the 2000’s.
When the money that is risked belongs only to shareholder, employees, and board members, there is not public issue with those risks; even ‘crazy’ ones. The problem occurs when the company (bank) in question is so large that if it fails it will bring down the countries (globe’s?) economy. This is also called “systemic risk“. Such a failure cannot be allowed to occur, so governments step and transfer your tax money to those companies.
Put simply, if you are ‘too big to fail’, the public has a right to validate your stability.
While laws must be periodically updated to keep up with the products offered for sale and global political / financial environment, the problem with the March 2018 changes is that they are all reductions: