What banks can be thankful for this year

The past year has been a wild ride for everyone, but it has left bankers in particular with many reasons to count their blessings.Consider, first of all, the recent legislative action on Capitol Hill. After the surprise Republican sweep during last year’s elections, bankers began putting together a wish list for policymakers, which included lower corporate taxes and a higher asset threshold for systemically important financial institutions. Congress has taken steps to address both issues.Regulatory agencies in Washington are also becoming more business friendly. In early February, days after the administration took office, The Wall Street Journal asked White House economic adviser Gary Cohn how the president planned to rein in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “Personnel is policy," Cohn responded.Important personnel changes swung into motion this month. CFPB Director Richard Cordray last week announced his long-anticipated resignation, setting off a wave of speculation about his potential successor. Additionally, the Senate confirmed Joseph Otting as comptroller of the currency. The president also named Jerome Powell his choice for chairman of the Federal Reserve, to succeed Janet Yellen.In addition to public policy matters, business is going well. Big banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America have posted their highest profits since the financial crisis. Community banks are holding their own in commercial lending as the rest of the industry struggles at it.So, bankers, say a word of thanks for the current business and political environment. Yet remember — as last year’s election demonstrated — things can change quickly.
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