News Release: Famous Last Words – What the Bank CEOs Told Congress in 2018 to Get Deregulation


May 15, 2023

Carter Dougherty
(202) 251-6700

Famous Last Words
What the Bank CEOs Told Congress in 2018 to Get Deregulation

Washington, D.C. – As the former CEOs of failed banks prepare to testify before Congress, consider the self-serving statements that bank executives, lobbyists and lawmakers uttered to grease passage of banking deregulation legislation in 2018.

“SVB, like our mid-sized bank peers, does not present systemic risks,” Greg Becker, the CEO of Silicon Valley Bank insisted, about five years before federal authorities declared his bank a systemic risk.

In “Famous Last Words” (available at this link) Americans for Financial Reform has collected what Becker and his allies said back in 2018. The list includes congressional supporters on both sides of the aisle, bank executives, and lobbyists including Rob Nichols, president of the American Bankers Association. Sen. Thom Tillis even urged that this deregulation be extended to Wall Street’s megabanks.

“They wanted Congress to pass legislation that would let them get bigger, take bigger risks, and make more money, so they said what they needed to,” Renita Marcellin, legislative and advocacy director at Americans for Financial Reform. “Their self-interested rhetoric should stand as an enduring reminder that the industry lobby will always call for deregulation. As we consider the hot topics being debated now, ranging from digital assets to private equity, Congress needs to pay attention to who is asking for what, and not repeat the mistakes of the past.

The 2018 legislation, S. 2155, eliminated enhanced oversight of banks the size of SVB and Signature Bank. AFR warned at the time that the legislation would lead to trouble and has since documented how the law, combined with deregulation-minded officials at the Federal Reserve, created this year’s banking crisis.