Deep in the throes of last year’s presidential campaign, winner-to-be Donald Trump called for a “21st century” version of the 1933 Glass-Steagall law that separated commercial and investment banking.
Such a law, also promoted by Sen. Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary, would score populist points with the added attraction of rebuking President Bill Clinton, who signed its repeal in 1999.
Break up the big banks, went the slogan, lingering from the 2008 financial collapse. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton challenged Sanders on specifics. The GOP even included a new Glass-Steagall law in its platform.
Given all that, Bloomberg News asked Trump last week how this was going.
“I’m looking at that right now,” the GOP president said. “There’s some people that want to go back to the old system, right? So we’re going to look at that.”
Trump’s remarks were most interesting for the stir they did not cause and the practical impact they did not have.
On CNBC, a guest named Josh Brown, CEO of Ritholtz Wealth Management, warned investors: “Stop. Please don’t make changes to your portfolio based on things that get blurted out. . . . Do not trade [on] this news.”
Major bank stocks dipped at the remarks that Trump “blurted out” but quickly rebounded, finishing higher on the day.
Oddly, the same day in Los Angeles, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told an economics research group: “You should all thank me for your bank stocks doing better.”
He praised the Republican rollback of Dodd-Frank regulations — not surprising from an administration with many Wall Streeters in the highest ranks sworn to deregulation.
Other things “blurted out” by Trump in interviews capping his first 100 days involved Andrew Jackson, the Civil War and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Politicians and pundits are still trying to interpret what he meant.
Last week, The Washington Post rounded up a number of instances when Trump said in the context of a public exchange that he was considering or would consider some action.
These included banning guns for those on the no-fly list, suing to get Sen. Ted Cruz ruled ineligible to run for president, hiking the federal minimum wage and breaking up the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. And absolutely, he said early on, he’d release tax returns if he ran.
None of these moved toward fruition. The list of these musings keeps growing, the future follow-up unknown.