Austan Goolsbee: Going back to banking’s bad old days is a ‘terrible, terrible idea’

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Former Council of Economic Advisers chairman Austan Goolsbee told CNBC on Wednesday that it would be a “terrible, terrible idea” to gut banking regulations and go back to the days before the financial crisis.

“You can’t look back at the worst financial crisis of our lifetimes that started in 2008 and not have some important lessons about the critical nature of oversights in financial markets and institutions,” said Goolsbee, who served on the Council as part of the Obama Administration. “It probably won’t blow up the world in the next six months, but it puts you on a track where within a decade, we’d be very likely to have another financial crisis.”

Many on Wall Street believe that repealing or weakening the Dodd-Frank banking regulations, which were put in place following the crisis, could boost the economy. One of those voices is Steve Mnuchin, Donald Trump’s choice for Treasury secretary, who told CNBC that he wants to “strip back parts of Dodd-Frank” that prevent banks from lending.

Specifically, Mnuchin said he opposes parts of Dodd-Frank that put smaller and regional banks under similar scrutiny as the biggest Wall Street banks.

Asked whether he believes that Trump’s picks, such as Steve Mnuchin or Wilbur Ross, could repeal the law, Goolsbee said Congress would actually play a bigger role regarding the future of Dodd-Frank.

“One of the most interesting things that I’m seeing of the Trump picks is such a heavy business and financial focus. I can’t help but feel like this is going to throw a lot of policy weight and details back to Congress, because these are not people who have a lot of experience drafting legislation,” Goolsbee said. “So then, that makes me ask, what do Republicans in the House think? And there, I think they’d probably be up for repealing Dodd-Frank.”

— CNBC’s Jeff Cox contributed to this report.

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