Paul Atkins, a Securities an Exchange Commission member during the George W. Bush administration, has joined Trump’s transition team to oversee the Wall Street regulatory agency.
Atkins currently heads his own consulting firm, Patomak Global Partners LLC. It specializes in financial compliance issues like those that come before the SEC.
The firm is a classic example of revolving-door government, which Trump also railed against in the campaign. Top executives like President Dan Gallagher and Kathleen Casey are both former SEC commissioners.
Atkins, 58, is known as a ceaseless advocate of financial deregulation and opposes stiff fines for Wall Street wrong-doing.
In contrast, harsh financial penalties were a hallmark of Mary Jo. White, a former federal prosecutor whom President Obama tapped to head the agency in 2008.
As part of his broader promise to rollback regulations, Trump vowed during his campaign to abolish Obama administration financial reforms.
Known as the “Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act,” or Dodd-Frank for short, the reforms are a cornerstone of Obama’s crack-down on reckless speculation and lack of industry transparency.
During his tenure in the White House, President George W. Bush took a hands-off approach to financial regulation.
That paved the way for Wall Street’s biggest banks to speculate on exotic investments that ultimately led to the global financial meltdown.
The industry only survived thanks to billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts.
To prevent another financial shock that might require even more bailouts, Congress enacted Dodd-Frank in 2010.
But the measure was orphaned almost as soon as it was signed into law. Democrats charged it didn’t go far enough. Republicans said it went too far. Meanwhile, Wall Street bristled at the restrictions.
Repealing Dodd-Frank was at the top of the industry’s election wish list.
Although Trump railed against Clinton for her Wall Street campaign donors and fat-cat speaking fees, he was on board with the repeal from the get-go.
The only problem is the law includes some key consumer protections that would leave small investors vulnerable to Wall Street chicanery.
Because of the widespread shift from company pension plans to individual 401(k) type retirement accounts, even lower middle-class families are vulnerable to wild stock market gyrations.
The 2008 financial collapse reportedly reduced 401(k) accounts by as much as 40 percent, ruining retirement for millions of families.
Since the election, Truamp’s transition team has been trying to walk back his broad promise to trash Dodd-Frank, according to The Wall Street Journal.
But his selection of Atkins–based only on unnamed sources in The Journal and elsewhere–suggests the government’s chief watchdog agency is about to let Wall Street’s wolves roam free again.
Atkins reportedly will be calling the shots on financial deregulation, according to those sources. One thing is certain, he has a track record for going soft on financial fraud.
During his tenure as a commissioner, Atkins opposed socking Qwest Communications with a $250 million fine in 2004 accounting fraud.
If Atkins has any redeeming views, he believes individual corporate officers should be held accountable for wrong-doing, not the company itself. He says that only punishes shareholders, who are already victims.
If so, that may be a significant reform in itself. Not one bank executive was prosecuted or sued as a result of the 2008 financial collapse.