Now that the smoke is clearing from the U.S. presidential primary battles and we have two clear winners, let me offer a few suggestions to the presumptive nominees Donald Trump for the Republicans and Hillary Clinton for the Democrats. (Bernie, please exit while you still have your dignity.)
This is a wish list of Wall Street-related, mostly regulatory issues that the candidates have danced around during the endless presidential race.
So, when The Donald and Hillary finally face off, I would like them to take on one or more of the following:
- Dodd-Frank: Do It or Die: We need an honest debate about the strengths and weaknesses of the six-year-old Dodd-Frank Act. In addition, I would like them to review the Republican plan just put forth by Rep. Jeb Hensarling, from Texas, who is also the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Trump apparently likes the new plans as it will jack up financial penalties for those firms that break securities laws, and would dump Dodd-Frank, including the controversial Volcker Rule. Among the questions asked should be why it took the G.O.P six years to present an alternative.
- Break Up the Banks or Don’t: The U.S. Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders, our septuagenarian socialist, droned on about breaking up the banks but then choked when The New York Daily News gave him the chance to lay out how he would break them into pieces. However, the issue shouldn’t die there as we need to know if and when Trump and Clinton would lower the wrecking ball on banks or other kinds of financial services firms that are too big for their britches and taxpayers’ wallets. (We should also extend the conversation to clearinghouses but that would too inside baseball for the average voter.)
- The Fakakta FATCA Laws: My guess is that expat Democrats and Republicans hate the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and that their banks hate it even more. Some overseas banks are refusing U.S. citizens and some Americans are renouncing their citizenship. However, it is remarkable that the IRS, the State Department and other arms/tentacles/stingers of the federal government have been so successful in getting foreign governments to comply and implement this law — even China, that bastion of capitalism. FATCA’s supporters say the law makes everyone with U.S. citizenship pay his or her fair share — even Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London! (Boris eventually had to cave in.) Among many issues, FATCA detractors are wary of government overreach and of the global overreach that could follow. This should have been a hot issue among the G.O.P. contenders but they were much more focused on taking on the Trump tiger. I would really like to know if Clinton is sympathetic to the individuals and banks that have to comply with this lovely law. (Bernie, of course, would want blood and your first overseas child in order to pay for a socialist paradise in the U.S.)
- Market Killer or Booster? At some point, the media will have to ask the question about whether Trump or Clinton will be good for the U.S. financial markets. Analysts say that Trump is the unknown and unpredictable one, even though he sticks his foot in his mouth every other week like clockwork. If Trump wins, some experts are predicting that Chinese and European investors will pull out of U.S. markets because of the instability he promises — new trade deals that favor America, sword rattling with America’s enemies, and so on. However, Clinton may have a few surprises in her pantsuit pocket. With Bernie’s supporters in mind, she may attempt a few more reforms and a break-up, if warranted, which might make markets nervous. Ultimately, we need to get a clearer idea of how each’s administration would impact the markets at a very critical time in our long recovery from the president before Obama.