Jamie Dimon, chief executive of Wall Street giant JPMorgan Chase, lashed out at efforts by U.S. regulators to police the $600 trillion swaps market, in which his bank is a big player.
New regulations being implemented by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, mandated under 2010's Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms, would damage America, Dimon said Wednesday at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event on capital markets.
He was upbeat about the economy, but criticized aspects of the sweeping Dodd-Frank law.
Corporate America is in very good shape. It's well-financed, it's well-funded, he said. The consumer is spending ... housing is better than it was.
Dodd-Frank, he added, poses a huge cost for banks and has made regulatory compliance even more complicated.
The remarks from one of Wall Street's highest-paid bankers, and arguably its most politically influential, came as U.S. regulators work to implement scores of new Dodd-Frank rules in a response to the massive 2007-2009 financial crisis.
Two and a half years since the crisis peaked, the profits and pay scales of big banks that were bailed out by taxpayers, including Dimon's, are up strongly, while many Americans still struggle to recover from a severe recession with high unemployment.
The chamber event also saw Elizabeth Warren come before some of her sharpest critics to defend the independent funding of the U.S. financial consumer watchdog she is setting up for the Obama administration. She said she is a strong supporter of competition and that she believes the chamber is too.
I know that you believe in it passionately and so do I, she said in the chamber's chandeliered Hall of Flags in its headquarters near the White House. The chamber is the nation's largest and richest business lobbying group.
The chamber and I have not always seen eye to eye ... But I don't consider myself in hostile territory right now, and that is because I believe we share this principle, she said.
Her appearance at the event was the latest stop in her charm campaign as the administration weighs whether to formally nominate her to be director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) created by Dodd-Frank.
President Barack Obama has done more recently to reach out to business, after a testy first two years in power, but the chamber has remained a foe, analysts said.
The chamber has been very aggressive in opposing pretty much any policy the Obama administration has proposed, said Christian Weller, an associate professor of public policy at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.
These attacks on the administration and its policies are very surprising considering that the Obama administration has gone out of its way to make sure that its policies will in fact enhance the functioning of private markets, he said.
Warren used the chamber event to attack a proposal from congressional Republicans to put the CFPB's funding through the congressional appropriations process, instead of getting funds independently as the Dodd-Frank legislation required.
CFPB funding should be independent of the appropriations process, she said, as it is for other bank regulators.
Chamber President Thomas Donohue, speaking at the event, said Dodd-Frank threatens a steady decline in our share of global economic activity ... We're in a dangerous position.
The chamber wants the CFPB to have a five-member bipartisan board, rather than a single director, he said, adding that another top priority is protecting end-users of financial derivatives from costly new Dodd-Frank margin requirements.
Donohue also urged caution on a central part of Dodd-Frank -- tagging large financial institutions as potential risks to the financial system so they can be more tightly policed by regulators. The goal is to prevent a repeat of the crisis that pulled the economy into a deep recession.
CATERPILLAR CEO ON ILLINOIS
The chief executive of Caterpillar Inc criticized the business climate in the heavy equipment maker's home state of Illinois in remarks at the event, while downplaying reports that the company might leave.
Legislators in Illinois have created an environment that is unfriendly to business and investment. At Caterpillar we want to help and lead a change in that climate, said Douglas Oberhelman.
He sent a letter last week to Illinois' governor that mentioned that four states have invited the company to relocate since Illinois raised taxes in January.
I want to stay here. But as the leader of this business, I have to do what's right for Caterpillar, Oberhelman wrote in the letter obtained by a local media outlet.
At the chamber event, Oberhelman said headlines suggesting that Caterpillar might leave the state were misleading.
That's not really what I said, he told the chamber. I actually said I was looking forward to finding a way to invest more in Illinois and change the business climate. Illinois is our home.
(Reporting by Kevin Drawbaugh; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)