To be halfway intelligent these days, one must know how to speak Trump. Yet the fact that the president's verbal tics are now endlessly parodied on cable news doesn't make investors and news consumers any keener judges of when Trump is delivering useful information and when he's just letting his tongue flap mindlessly about. Generally, the latter gets mistaken for the former.
The most recent test of that principle came around 12:50 p.m. on Monday, when Bloomberg put out the following:
President Donald Trump said he is actively considering breaking up giant Wall Street banks, giving a push to efforts to revive a Depression-era law separating consumer lending and investment banking.
“I’m looking at that right now,” Trump said Monday in an interview with Bloomberg News in the Oval Office. “There’s some people that want to go back to the old system, right? So we’re going to look at that.”
The tell here is the phrase “I'm looking at.” Here are some other things Trump has “looked at”: raising the minimum wage, breaking up the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, a one- or two-state solution to Israel-Palestine, banning Muslims from working in the TSA, a book. The Washington Post called it “Trump's preferred way of blowing off a question.”
And yet, see Citigroup, which is illustrative of its megabank peers:
Of course, Trump and his staff had made noise about a “Twenty-First Century Glass-Steagall” before. But despite sharing a name with a really-existing Elizabeth Warren thing, the notion is essentially just a contentless string of phonemes when uttered by Gary Cohn or Steve Mnuchin – the latter of whom, incidentally, appeared at the Milken Conference Monday and said: “You should all thank me for your bank stocks doing better.”
Have fun in the dip.