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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big banks are no longer allowed to reject business loan applicants because of the industry in which they operate, according to a new rule finalized on Thursday by the Trump administration.

Why it matters: Wall Street has curtailed its exposure to industries like guns, oil and private prisons, driven by both public and shareholder pressures. This new rule could reverse that trend.

Details: The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency finalized a rule it first proposed last November, arguing that industry-driven decisions violated its fair access policy.

  • It only relates to banks with more than $100 billion in assets, which OCC says "may exert significant pricing power or influence over sectors of the national economy."
  • That would include Citi, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase — each of which has limited lending to certain types of new energy projects. It also includes Bank of America, which in 2018 said it would stop financing the makers of military-style firearms.

What they're saying:

Brian Brooks, who stepped down as Acting Comptroller of the Currency just hours after the rule was finalized:

"When a large bank decides to cut off access to charities or even embassies serving dangerous parts of the world or companies conducting legal businesses in the United States that support local jobs and the national economy, they need to show their work and the legitimate business reasons for doing so... Moreover, elected officials should determine what is legal and illegal in our country."

Greg Baer, president and CEO of the Bank Policy Institute:

"The rule lacks both logic and legal basis, it ignores basic facts about how banking works, and it will undermine the safety and soundness of the banks to which it applies. Its substantive problems are outweighed only by the egregious procedural failings of the rulemaking process, and for these reasons it is unlikely to withstand scrutiny."

Between the lines: The Trump administration is rushing to finalize a rash of rulemaking before next Wednesday's transition of power, including a controversial Treasury effort to apply many traditional banking standards to self-hosted cryptocurrency wallets. Much of it may be overturned by the incoming Biden administration.

Looking ahead: OCC is expected to have a difficult time enforcing this rule, even if it remains on the books.

Go deeper

Biden's centrist words, liberal actions

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Biden talks like a soothing centrist. He promises to govern like a soothing centrist. But early moves show that he is keeping his promise to advance a liberal agenda.

Why it matters: Never before has a president done more by executive fiat in such a short period of time than Biden. And those specific actions, coupled with a push for a more progressive slate of regulators and advisers, look more like the Biden of the Democratic primary than the unity-and-restraint Biden of the general election.

Perfect storm brewing for extreme politicians

Data: Axios research; Table: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Redistricting and a flood of departing incumbents are paving the way for more extreme candidates in this year's midterm elections.

Driving the news: At least 19 House districts in 12 states are primed to attract such candidates — hard partisans running in strongly partisan districts — according to an Axios analysis of districts as measured by the Cook Political Report's Partisan Voter Index (PVI).

Updated 3 hours ago - Technology

3D printing's next act: big metal objects

Chief Scientist Andy Bayramian makes modifications to the laser system on Seurat's 3D metal printer. Photo courtesy of Seurat Technologies.

A new metal 3D printing technology could revolutionize the way large industrial products like planes and cars are made, reducing the cost and carbon footprint of mass manufacturing.

Why it matters: 3D printing — also called additive manufacturing — has been used since the 1980s to make small plastic parts and prototypes. Metal printing is newer, and the challenge has been figuring out how to make things like large car parts faster and cheaper than traditional methods.