Time was, a U.S. president declaring that he was “looking into” breaking up the big banks would have been cause for concern on Wall Street—or at least cause for making some big changes to one’s portfolio. Today, with Donald Trump spouting off or tweeting about every little thing that passes through his head, things are very different. So when the commander in chief announced on Monday that he was considering bringing back Glass-Steagall, the Depression-era law that separated investment and retail banking, the markets barely reacted, falling just slightly before recovering. We and others noted that this was presumably because, despite an initial valiant attempt to take him both literally and seriously, considering that he’s the president of the United States, investors and the business community have begun taking everything Trump says or tweets with a giant, coarse grain of artisanal sea salt. Not only will the majority of things he’s claiming to be “looking into” not actually result in policy, but many of those things will never actually even be “looked into.” He’s literally just making things up as he goes along, and for Wall Street, it‘s not worth the time or energy to worry about Trump’s stream of consciousness. Still, it’s pretty amazing to hear business leaders actually voice their new “Don’t listen to anything the president says” approach, even anonymously, as they have at this week’s Milken Institute Global Conference.
“I don’t take Trump seriously,” a senior executive with “one of the country’s six largest banks” told Reuters. “I’m listening less and less.” According to reporters Lawrence Delevingne, Svea Herbst-Bayliss, and Olivia Oran, the comments “were echoed by at least a dozen institutional investors and bank executives who spoke to Reuters.” Regulatory lawyer Aaron Cutler also told the news outlet that you can’t bank on anything from Trump “until it’s signed into law” and that his clients have not yet acted on anything out of the administration.
As Ritholtz Wealth Management C.E.O. Josh Brown said Monday on CNBC, “Stop—please don’t make changes to your portfolio based on things that get blurted out.”
Offering the contrarian, friend-of-Trump take is real-estate investor, Trump buddy, and inaugural party planner Tom Barrack, who said on a Milken panel Tuesday, with a completely straight face, that the big guy’s “lack of predictability has gained respect.”
Source/More: Vanity Fair