Close the three-year anniversary of the Dodd-Frank reforms, Lew said at the CNBC and Institutional Investor Alpha Conference in New York that the massive bill eliminated the designation of financial firms being "too big to fail."
"Banking will always involve some degree of risk-taking, and the goal is not to eliminate all risk in banking," Lew said in prepared remarks. "But now, if a financial firm fails, taxpayers will not have to bear the cost of that failure," he said, because "Dodd-Frank ended the notion that any firm is 'too big to fail,'" he said.
But Lew also said more reforms were needed, including the completion of rules spelled out in the Dodd-Frank act.
Lew said the Treasury Department expected by the end of the year to complete work on "enhanced prudential standards for banks and designated non-banks ... capital and margin rules for derivatives ... new simplified mortgage disclosure .. and the Volcker Rule," which is meant to prevent banks from risky, proprietary trading.
Lew said, "at least some of the alarmist thinking about Dodd-Frank has faded."
This is not to say financial firms did not put effort into blocking various reforms. However, Lew compared reform naysayers Richard Whitney, the former President of the New York Stock Exchange, who derided the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Whitney, in 1934, said, the SEC would 'destroy our security markets,'" Lew said.
"Whitney, of course, was wrong then," Lew said.