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CFPB Drops a Load of Rules on Mortgage Servicers; JPMorgasbord

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Breaking News This Morning ...

Earnings: Bank of America, BB&T, Citigroup, Fifth Third, Huntington, PNC

Receiving Wide Coverage ...

CFPB to Unveil New Servicing Rules: Among other significant changes, mortgage servicers will have to wait until a borrower is 120 days delinquent before initiating the foreclosure process under the rule, which preempts state foreclosure laws. The rule will also ban "dual tracking," in which servicers start foreclosure while a loan modification is being processed. Several articles quote consumer activists complaining that the regulations don't go far enough and should have included a stronger mandate to offer mods to borrowers in trouble. Small banks are exempt from the rule (which, by the way, we couldn't find on the CFPB website or in the Federal Register this morning, so for now you'll have to trust the media). Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, Washington Post

Dimon's Pay Cut: It was "a message from the board to regulators and worried investors that it was a strong watchdog over the nation's largest bank," the Times reports, citing anonymous sources. (These brave whistleblowers must have risked their livelihoods by revealing to the press the confidential, highly sensitive information that JPM has a vigilant board of directors.) The FT notes that despite the more than halving of CEO Jamie Dimon's bonus for 2012, JPMorgan's "investment bank pay-to-revenue ratio was about 35 per cent, in line with previous levels." By contrast, the ratio dropped about four percentage points at Goldman Sachs, to 38%, and the FT article suggests that the investment banking sector as a whole has yet to fully adjust banker pay to shareholders' demands. Financial Times, New York Times, Washington Post

JPM's 'Record' Earnings: Profits rose sharply, but other metrics, like net interest margin, were less impressive. "While J.P. Morgan is managing well through difficult times, it and other banks still are hampered by the superlow interest-rate and changed-regulatory environment," observes the Journal's "Heard on the Street" column. Wall Street Journal, Financial Times

JPM's Internal Report: On last year's big trading loss. "Most of 'whale' blame borne below Dimon," says the FT. Financial Times, New York Times

Wall Street Journal

Michael Corbat is apparently learning from his predecessor's mistakes. "Citigroup Inc. has asked regulators for permission to repurchase just enough stock to counter dilution from routine share issuance, according to people familiar with the company's plans."

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Q1 Earnings Outlook to Put Focus on Lawsuits, Stress Tests, Lending
With JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) set to issue the initial round of first-quarter earnings reports Friday, big bank CEOs are bracing to answer questions about executive departures, capital shortfalls, seemingly unending legal risks and oh, yeah how they are going to make money.

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