CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Bankers say their customers like what they are hearing from President-elect Donald Trump on regulatory relief and infrastructure spending, but whether that translates into increased capital spending — and borrowing — is still very much unclear.
At an economic forum here Friday, Brian Moynihan, chairman and CEO at Bank of America said that business owners and executives seem optimistic that business conditions will improve under Trump. Midsize companies in particular "are relieved that regulations might be more predictable," he said.
But Moynihan and David Carroll, who oversees wealth and investment management at Wells Fargo, said they are not expecting loan demand to increase substantially until businesses borrowers see meaningful improvement in the economy. Carroll said that while Wells is "hopeful about the improved sentiment," the election "doesn't change our budget process" for 2017.
The forum, hosted by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, also featured Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Richmond Fed. In a panel discussion, he said he is pleased that Trump seems focused for now on areas "that will foster growth" — such as infrastructure spending — rather than his campaign promise of erecting trade barriers, that would have the opposite effect.
Panelists were also asked about the potential for bubbles, particularly in light of interest rates that still remain at historical lows despite the Fed's recent decision to raise rates by 25 basis points.
"There is risk in certain geographies and sectors," Carroll said, singling out the apartment development industry in Charlotte. Still, he said the banking industry is exercising more restraint compared to before the financial crisis, including policies requiring borrowers to put more equity into their deals.