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Markets and Banks Reopen, But It's Hardly Business as Usual After Sandy

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Receiving Wide Coverage ...

Sandy, Day Three: "Power Outages May Last More Than a Week" along the East Coast, says the Journal. "New York City’s subways could take between 21 days and several months to be restored," reports the website Quartz. But the stock market is reopening today, as critics continue to fault the exchanges for insufficient disaster preparedness. (By the way, if you heard rumors yesterday about the New York Stock Exchange trading floor being flooded or Con Edison shutting down all power in Manhattan, they apparently emanated from the same source and they weren't true. Caveat Twitter.) CNBC's John Carney reports that the New York Fed has stayed open this whole time, and while most staff members have telecommuted, a few key employees slept over at headquarters. (In the vault with all that gold? That would be pretty sweet.) The Times offers a broad survey of how businesses of various kinds have coped with the disaster; the banking industry is represented by JPMorgan Chase, whose headquarters and main trading floors in midtown Manhattan are set to reopen Wednesday, along with "at least 100 hub bank branches in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut that were stocked with extra cash before the storm. … About 25,000 employees worked remotely on Monday, but that figure dropped to 15,000 to 20,000 on Tuesday as lights went out across the region. On a typical day, about 2,000 to 3,000 employees work through the bank’s remote computer system." Another Times story warns that many homeowners in the areas hit by Sandy "are likely to find that their flood insurance policies have lapsed or that they wrongly assumed their homeowners' policy would cover the damage." Although federal flood insurance is a prerequisite for mortgaging a home in a flood zone, "relatively few [lenders] monitor compliance with the requirement when the coverage expires, meaning that some homeowners inevitably allow their policies to lapse." (Just to be clear: They're talking about flood insurance here, not homeowners insurance, which, as American Banker readers know, is quite often subject to forced placement.) The Post has a thumbsucker of a story about how despite all the talk of the "Internet economy," this disaster reminds us how dependent we still are on physical infrastructure like subways, planes, etc. (That’s the Washington Post, by the way; the New York Post does not publish thumbsuckers.)

Employees at Will? UBS is putting those previously reported 10,000 job cuts into effect quick snap. About 100 traders in London "discovered at the turnstiles that their passes were no longer working when they tried to get to work on Tuesday morning," says the FT. Others "discovered that they might lose their jobs when their email repeatedly bounced back." Wall Street Journal, Financial Times

Wall Street Journal

Today's the one-year anniversary of the MF Global bankruptcy. The brokerage's former assistant treasurer, Edith O'Brien, is now "the last, best hope for a breakthrough" in figuring out who's to blame for the firm's pilfering of customer funds to cover margin calls and other debts. O'Brien "hasn't budged from her refusal to cooperate with investigators unless she is shielded from prosecution," the Journal reports. "Friends say she has been worried about becoming the 'fall guy' in the probe, especially since former MF Global Chief Executive Jon S. Corzine told lawmakers in December that she assured him [a] $175 million transfer was proper." That transfer covered an overdraft at MF Global's account at JPMorgan Chase.

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