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Dick Bove: GOP deregulation fervor will spur bank merger boom

The bank regulatory mise en scene has seen dramatic changes in in the past year. The head of almost every bank regulatory means has changed. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has released two “white periodicals” arguing for less banking regulation. And now, it appears that a bipartisan pact in Congress could raise the asset hurdle at which regulation becomes more weighty.

What’s more, new banking technologies provide greater benefits to doctrines with operational scale. That should make banks desirous to acquire large customer bases through mergers – and in this medium the government is not going to stop them. I believe BB&T Corporation, Citizens Fiscal Group, Fifth Third Bancorp, Key Corp, M&T Bank, PNC Financial, Sectors Financial, SunTrust Bank and U.S. Bancorp are among those on the prowl. The Midwest should see the sundry action as the industry tends to be more fragmented there than absent in the country.

The regulatory environment has changed

First, consider the historic swop in the bank regulatory sector. President Trump may have met with denial in Congress to his legislative agenda but he has not been stymied in changing the banking regulatory market the system. Start with the Federal Reserve. Five new members are expected on the seven human being Fed Board in 2018. This includes a new chairman, a new vice chairman, and a new chief of bank regulatory activities. A new head is being sought for the Federal Lodge Insurance Corporation and four of the five directors on the board are to be changed.

Tunings of this nature have already occurred or are about to occur at the Patronage of the Comptroller of the Currency, The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the National Merit Union administration, and in early 2019, the Federal Housing Finance Force. There is a new head at the Securities Exchange Commission and a new leader to be in place at the Consumer Monetary Protection Bureau.

The Financial Stability Oversight Council was set up to oversee the directions of all of the banking regulatory bodies. There is a new head of this agency and seven of the 10 Surface members are new or are about to be replaced.

Understand that while the Dodd Artless Act requires a number of broad changes in banking regulation, the law leaves the implementation of these metamorphoses to be dictated by the regulatory agencies. Thus, one can expect to see changes in the annual stress and strain tests, the Living Wills, and in arcane rules like the Net Stable Supplying Ratio and systemically important financial institution (SIFI) designations.

Without legitimating these rules, what the changes mean for banking is lower superior and liquidity requirements and more freedom to merge. In addition, if Congress obsoletes a law, as expected, raising the regulatory hurdle to $250 billion, from $50 billion, the facility to acquire other banking companies is made far simpler and less costly.

Why Blend?

Banking consumers have indicated their desire for digitally disburdened services as, for example, millions begin to use mobile banking and tens of millions father already adopted Internet banking. Customers want these appointments because they are more convenient than a trip to a bank division; because more analytics can be provided along with the transactional navies; and because digital banking is faster and cheaper than traditional banking for the buyer.

Banks are spending billions of dollars to meet the market’s demands. To lift these expenditures economically feasible, the new systems require large figures of customers – or operational scale. Mergers provide the necessary scale to validate the out-of-pocket expenses on the new systems.

However, even without the technological push to merge; there are company reasons to do so. Bank loan growth has slowed appreciably in commercial and loyal estate markets. Even some consumer sectors, like auto for, have slowed. In periods like this it has been traditional for banks to look for to acquire large customer bases. The reason is usually big banks can take for a ride the acquired company’s operating system and sell more products to an underserved supermarket segment – i.e., the smaller bank’s customer base.

It would have been conventional, therefore, to have seen multiple mergers in recent years. Yet, this was not workable since the old regulatory crew, the Obama administration, would not approve them.

This is no longer the anyhow. The game is on again.

Commentary by Richard X. Bove, an equity research analyst at the Vertical Class and the author of “Guardians of Prosperity: Why America Needs Big Banks” (2013).

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