President Joe Biden signed an executive order Friday afternoon to promote “open and fair” economic competition in the United States which, among other measures, curbs bank mergers and urges the Securities and Exchange Commission to force the financial services industry to share data.
The order — which includes 72 specific actions, Biden said Friday in televised remarks — “commits the federal government to full and aggressive enforcement of our antitrust laws,” Biden said. “No more tolerance for abusive actions by monopolies. No more bad mergers that lead to mass layoffs, higher prices, fewer options for workers and consumers alike.”
Added Biden: “I expect the federal agencies, and they know this, to help restore competition so that we have lower prices, higher wages, more money, more options and more convenience for the American people.”
Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, said Friday in a statement that Biden’s “misguided” executive order would “drive up regulatory costs on financial institutions, leading to further consolidation.”
Biden’s curb of bank mergers is “nothing more than Democrats’ attempt to clean up their own mess caused by Dodd-Frank,” McHenry said.
“The law’s maze of mandates and regulations drove consolidation within the banking sector. When you find yourself in a hole, the first rule is to stop digging,” McHenry continued. “Democrats have instead decided to double down and want to impose even more regulation. This won’t help institutions — especially small and community banks — better serve their customers or create more competition in financial services.”
In the order, Biden encourages the Department of Justice and “the agencies responsible for banking (the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency) to update guidelines on banking mergers to provide more robust scrutiny of mergers.”