Speaking at an conference of elites in government and finance Monday morning, President Trump's treasury secretary took credit for rising prices in bank stocks.
"You should all thank me for your bank stocks doing better," the secretary, Steven T. Mnuchin, told a Beverly Hills audience at the annual conference of the Milken Institute, an economic research group.
Since the election, a Standard and Poor's index of shares in major financial institutions is up 18.6 percent.
President Trump has pledged to undo the rules and regulations that Democrats imposed on Wall Street in the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation of 2010. Analysts believe that the new system has weighed on banks' profits by preventing many of them from engaging in the kinds of lucrative but risky practices that preceded the financial crisis almost nine years ago.
Mnuchin also argued that regardless of the system in place, banks needed greater clarity and certainty about what the rules are, and that the Trump administration was providing clearer guidance, giving bankers more confidence.
Shares in major banks are also appreciating along with the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 15 percent since Trump's election. Investors expect that Trump will be able to enact a substantial tax cut for businesses, which would allow corporations to hold onto more of their profits, increasing their value.
Investors are also optimistic about the chance of economic stimulus in the form of spending on infrastructure or reduced taxes for consumers, which would have benefits for the economy as a whole, at least in the short term.
Mnuchin’s rhetoric, however, contrasts with Trump’s campaign posture and promises. As a candidate, Trump vowed to be a populist candidate who would diminish the influence of “elites” — both from Washington and Wall Street — and bring prosperity and power to some groups of workers.
Trump has proposed some incremental adjustments to U.S. trade policy aimed at improving the prospects of American manufacturing, and he has rolled back some regulations, particularly on coal mining, intended to help industry groups. Other major campaign promises, including rewriting the rules of trade with Mexico and China, have not yet been realized, and despite promising to label China a "currency manipulator" — a designation that could eventually lead to trade penalties — on his first day in office, the administration recently declined to do so.