Law and Regulations

IMF 'mindful' of Trump's attempt to repeal Dodd-Frank banking law, Lagarde says

The International Monetary Fund's Christine Lagarde is one of this year's attendees of the Bilderberg Meetings.
Adam Berry | Getty Images

International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde on Sunday urged financial regulators not to undo the framework put in place after the 2008 financial crisis, insisting that supervision of big banks should not be loosened and governments must prevent another meltdown.

Lagarde told attendees at the World Government Summit in Dubai that the fund was "mindful" of President Donald Trump's attempts to roll back the Dodd-Frank Act, a regulatory reaction to the worldwide financial pandemic triggered by the housing market downturn.

Earlier this month, Trump signed an executive order, directing the Treasury secretary to submit recommendations within 120 days for changes to the financial system regulations enacted under the 2010 law. The president argued that the policy is holding back the economy and stopping businesses borrowing money.

Lagarde, however, urged regulators not to let banks "do whatever they please." She called for authorities to have the right "buffers" in place in case of another shock to the financial system.

"I'm going to be very mindful of where international financial regulation goes. It's very important," Lagarde said in Dubai. Regulators "have a responsibility."

The IMF chief did not comment specifically about the pros and cons of the law, but said that the fund would be monitoring Trump's attempts to rework regulation.

Dodd-Frank legislation marked one of the biggest reforms in history to the financial sector. Under Trump, it's unclear what part, if any, of the law his administration will be able to roll back or reform. Democrats, as well as some U.S. policy makers, have warned against tinkering with certain parts of the act.

"I don't think Dodd-Frank as a whole is going to be repealed, but there may be some adjustments to it," U.S. Federal Reserve Vice Chair Stanley Fischer said on Saturday.

"Significantly reducing capital requirements would reduce the safety of the system," Fischer said, speaking of the rule that banks hold a certain amount of assets in the event of an economic emergency. "I certainly hope it's not going to happen."

Some politicians – including one of the law's chief architects – said it could do with some reforms, but killing it would be a mistake.

"Yes, there are a couple of particular things where we could tighten it up, but the assault on the major set of plans is greatly mistaken," former Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass, told CNBC in a recent interview.

Lagarde also said that new financial technology, or fintech, could have an impact in relation to regulation. She said that monetary authorities have a "special responsibility" to monitor developments in this area.

"Because of the fintech that are activating all over the place … we need to be particularly mindful in that regard because regulations," Lagarde said. The market will be "full of opportunities and risks in the financial sector.'

- CNBC's Saheli Roy Choudhury contributed to this report