Lazard Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Jacobs said regulatory changes to the U.S. banking industry were “necessary” and “appropriate” in the wake of the financial crisis.
“There needs to be some separation of the activities that people do for their own account versus the ones that they do on behalf of clients,” Jacobs, 53, said today in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Conversations With Judy Woodruff,” airing this weekend. Regulatory changes “were necessary. And I think from that standpoint, they’re appropriate.”
The biggest U.S. banks are grappling with an overhaul of the financial system through the Dodd-Frank Act and the so-called Volcker rule, named for former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. The rule, which takes effect in 2012, will limit banks from trading on their own behalf and from investing in private-equity and hedge funds. Officials also are discouraging risk taking and requiring banks to hold more capital and undergo stress tests.
“Wall Street is just not going to be as profitable as it used to be,” he said. “It’s not going to come back to the way it was before 2008. It’s a secular change.”
The market’s expectation for recovery from the financial crisis has been “wildly optimistic,” and there will be a “sustained period of time of sub-par” growth in gross domestic product in the U.S., Jacobs said. With slow economic recovery, merger-and-acquisition activity will improve as companies are challenged to grow organically, he said.
Global announced volume in transactions fell in the third quarter to $543.3 billion from $645 billion in the second quarter and $582.1 billion in the same period last year, according to Bloomberg data. Hamilton, Bermuda-based Lazard, the world’s largest independent merger adviser, ranks ninth on the M&A league tables.
“The factor that’s very troubling right now is CEO confidence,” Jacobs said. “We won’t see that improve until we see volatility start to come out of the markets.”
CEO confidence has been “rocked” by the debt crisis in Europe, Jacobs said.
“If people are looking for magic bullets, they’re going to be disappointed,” he said. “The problems in Europe built up over many years. They’re not going to be resolved in a matter of weeks or days.”