Larry Fink doesn’t buy Jamie Dimon’s complaints about regulation and the mortgage market.
In an interview with Bloomberg TV on Wednesday, the BlackRock CEO said that he doesn’t think the economy has been seriously hurt by the tighter regulations on financial institutions since the financial crisis, contrary to what Dimon argued after JPMorgan’s earnings were released on Thursday.
“I don’t believe that we had a reduction in economic activity because of regulation,” said Fink. “I think the leaders of banks, of financial institutions, would do anything to drive growth. And I believe when there is demand for a loan, when there is demand for a mortgage, in most cases they drove that demand.”
Fink also said he wasn’t “a believer that regulation really inhibited loan growth.”
This runs counter to concerns raised by Dimon, the JPMorgan CEO, in an earnings call with media. Dimon cited an analysis by JPMorgan’s fixed income team that showed up to $US500 billion in mortgages had not been made since the financial crisis due to new regulations.
“If that number is right, shame on us,” Dimon said on the call.
This also goes along with a section from Dimon’s annual letter to shareholders that attacked the stronger regulatory regime and said it was hurting “lower income buyers, first-time homebuyers, the self-employed and individuals with prior defaults who deserve another chance.”
In essence, Dimon is arguing that by not allowing these groups to build wealth through homeownership, the economic dynamism of the US is dampened. The real estate industry employs a large number of Americans through the construction and sales of homes, and these people in turn go out and spend more in the economy. With fewer homes being sold and built, Dimon’s thinking implies, the US economy misses out on these second-order benefits.
Fink said the new, stricter methodology used to calculate credit scores may have eliminated some more risky, junk loans, but said these changes aren’t necessarily a bad thing.
“But let’s be clear, FICO scores did change. So that homeowner who maybe was able to get a mortgage in 2007 — that was just an inappropriate loan in many cases. And no, we don’t want to go back to that,” Fink said.
Fink suggested that most of the worry from bank CEOs like Dimon is because regulation has driven up costs for their banks. This, in turn, hurts profitability and makes executives — who, it is probably fair to say, like to maximise profits — chafe against the regulations.
“What I’m trying to suggest is, I believe there would be a lot of savings because many of these institutions have hired huge amounts of lawyers and all that,” Fink said. “And if there’s a better atmosphere, a better relationship with regulators, that indeed will save money, and maybe some of that money can go back into capital.”