Biden Demands Turn-Around in Bank-Merger, Consumer-Data, Tech-Platform Competition
In an executive order (EO) that truly deserves to be called “sweeping,” President Biden today announced a “whole-of-government” initiative aimed at reducing market concentration, enhancing consumer choice, reducing prices, and enhancing economic equality. It remains to be seen how quickly and completely executive-branch and independent agencies act on the EO’s long list of requirements, but it is clear at the outset that new initiatives—be they acquisitions, industry collaborations, or even consumer-finance product launches—will face a far higher level of competition and consumer-protection analysis. The EO affects virtually every business sector; this report focuses on provisions with direct impact on financial services. Here, the order targets past, present, and prospective bank consolidations on grounds of growing monopolization and adverse implications for rural and majority-minority communities. This will reverse much of the thinking behind the 2020 request for views by the Department of Justice on bank M&A; unlike it, the merger-specific orders do not address growing nonbank competition.