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OPINION

Sideways: Trump makes banks look good – for now

President Donald Trump has pulled off the almost impossible task of making America’s banks look good, if not exactly great, again.

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The 35-day partial shutdown of the US government over Trump’s call for funding of a border wall gave the country’s banks an opportunity to position themselves as responsible corporate citizens, with the interests of their customers at heart.

Large banks were quick to offer relief from fees to government workers who were denied wages. They were also keen to discuss their efforts to help.

Tim Sloan, chief executive of Wells Fargo, showed up on the CBS morning news to share his firm’s moves to support workers, in an appearance that must have felt like a welcome contrast to his mauling at the hands of senator Elizabeth Warren in a congressional hearing less than 18 months ago.

On the same day as Sloan came to prime time, chief executive Jamie Dimon announced that JPMorgan was donating $1 million to assist families affected by the shutdown. 

Dimon’s move was widely interpreted as exploitation of a gaffe by Trump’s commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, who made a tone-deaf suggestion that furloughed workers simply take out loans until the government reopened.