That's not true. The reason Obama can't reign in banks is because of the way the Legislative and Judiciary work in the United States. To summarize without getting into detail, Democrats and Republicans have been gerrymandering (re: redistricting) congressional districts for the last few decades. The purpose of this is to create squiggly, weird-looking districts that concentrate voters by demographic, and thus, ideological leaning. As a result, less than 25% of congressional elections are competitive. That's right. More than 75% of congressmen / congresswomen have "safe" seats (the exception is Iowa, where state laws don't allow redistricting, essentially). Congressmen / congresswomen are essentially not held accountable via elections. So how do you influence them? Lobbyists. The judiciary is involved in this process by virtue of the Supreme Court having a conservative majority. As a result, they did away with campaign laws that limited the amount of money corporations could donate to political candidates on the grounds that, as Mitt Romney put it, corporations are people. So whether it's via lobbyists or super political action committees (legalized bribery and unlimited campaign contributions), banks, people with money and special interest groups in general have an influence in American politics they really haven't had since the roaring 20s or even the late 19th century. It's sometimes hard for people to appreciate just how much the American political system has depreciated in the last 20, 30 years. Tales of American decline have ignored how powerful the American economy remains and how incredibly competitive the country is from a technology / educational standpoint. The problem Americans have had is with the fundamentals of their political system, which has bled into their economy. People here think freedom means no taxes, and that society that is governed by corporations and wealthy people is inherently fairer than that by elected officials. Truth be told, who can blame them, now that most elections are not competitive. But it's led to gigantic government deficits, arbitrary cuts in spending on important social programs (many incorrectly labeled " entitlement" programs, like unemployment and social security), underfunding of education in general. Let me put it this way, using California as an example. That state spends more money on prisons than it does on education. Let that sink into your head for a second. Can you imagine a more wasteful and damaging situation from the perspective of money and human capital? The reason something like that has to do with sentencing laws (again, a political issue) and money (the prison industrial complex). In the US you have the problem that ideas that have no basis in reality (reducing taxation stimulates growth thus increases revenues) reinforce problems on the ground (the deficit grows while funds for education and social programs dries up to maintain the military industrial complex). Simply put, the President of the United States is not a messiah that can undo this situation. The people who worked at the highest echelons of banking and finance who are now part of his administration are not egging him on to continue these imbalances, with some exceptions. If he had his way he would probably drop a New Deal-scale stimulus on the American economy. But you have to understand how dysfunctional the country has become at a political level. Until Americans stop accepting the Republican Party as a reasonable alternative to the Democratic Party (a party that's now a refugee camp for most of the American political spectrum), I don't think there's going to be big changes. They're so used to the system being a tug of war between the two parties, it hasn't really been evident to people how ideologically concentrated, and how unrepresentative of average Americans, the Republican Party has become. It's essentially been hijacked by a right-wing fascist movement, wearing badly made Revolutionary era hats instead of swastikas. Oh well.