How Regulation & the Fed Killed the Competitive Spirit in the Banking Community
During a recent House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing, a group of lawmakers wanted to know why there have been so few new banks opening their doors in America in recent years.
While it’s hard to admit that, for once, a group of Washington insiders are actually asking the right question, it’s also important to go beyond their concern by looking at why the sluggish economy is, in fact, to blame, but not because of economic factors alone. The problem, Mercatus Center’s Stephen Matteo Miller wrote, is regulation.
As the country announced the end of the economic crisis of 2008, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s application process was prolonged, hoping to cap the number of failed banks over time.
While this explains part of the problem, another issue also brought up by the Mercatus scholar may explain the other reason why there’s so little competition in the banking business.
According to a study carried out by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, the implementation of low interest rates defended by the Federal Reserve leadership may have had been directly to blame for low competition as well.
The conclusion both economists and the Mercatus scholar agreed on despite the findings by the Richmond Fed is that, laws like the Dodd-Frank Act, which adds to the regulatory burden, as well as the FDCI’s rule change had the most negative effect on the competitive aspect of the banking market, effectively protecting established banks and keeping smaller, more consumer-oriented banks out of the market. The artificial modifications made by the Fed have also contributed.
Over time, restrictions developed as regulations embodied in the Code of Federal Regulations have also had a negative effect on the overall health of the American economy. According to the Cumulative Cost of Regulations study carried out by the Mercatus Center, the regulatory burden may have helped to reduce gross domestic product (GDP) by $4 trillion. This aggressive and dramatic reduction may have also prompted entrepreneurs in the banking community to think twice before launching a new business.
So when reviewed carefully, the phenomena now under consideration by Congress has little to do with what many believe to be slow economic growth, or what many progressives like to call “record profits.” After all, it’s easy to measure how successful the established, too-big-to-fail banks have become over the past 6 or 7 years. What’s hard to assess is how much wealthier we would have been if government had gotten out of the financial system altogether.