Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin drew a scattering of laughs in a conference room full of financiers Monday when he said they should thank him for a surge in Wall Street stocks since the election of President Donald Trump in November.
“You should all thank me for your bank stocks doing better,” Mnuchin, a 17-year veteran of Goldman Sachs, said during the Milken Institute’s annual global conference in Beverly Hills. In the video of his remarks, laughter can be heard following the comment.
Mnuchin was the opening speaker for the economic research group’s Global Conference, and he spoke with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo about the ongoing efforts of the Trump administration to roll back financial regulations and launch the “largest tax reform in the history of our country.”
Both the White House and Congress have taken swift action to repeal or suspend dozens of Obama-era regulations, including the dismantling of 2010’s Dodd-Frank Act, meant to rein in banks after the financial crisis. The Washington Post notes the Trump administration’s pro-finance rhetoric has likely helped bank stocks surge 18.6 percent since November, according to Standard and Poor’s. Mnuchin was confirmed as Treasure secretary Feb. 13.
The president’s newly released tax plan is also expected to benefit big business, including banks, and lower tax rates on high-income earners, including bankers.
Mnuchin’s comment drew sharp rebuke rather than laughter from some members of Congress, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who called the statement “gross.”
Despite Mnuchin’s seeming coziness with Wall Street, Trump told Bloomberg News on Monday he was considering breaking up some of the country’s largest banks. The comments build on calls during his presidential campaign for a “21st century” Glass-Steagall Act that would once again separate consumer and investment banking. The legislation was repealed in 1999 and allowed for the rise of huge banking institutions.
“I’m looking at that right now,” Trump told Bloomberg. “There’s some people that want to go back to the old system, right? So we’re going to look at that.”
Watch Mnuchin’s full interview here.