Receiving Wide Coverage ...
The Enforcers: Reaction to President Obama's nomination of former prosecutor Mary Jo White as the new head of the Securities and Exchange Commission is a bit of a mixed bag. While headlines acknowledge the pick sends a message to Wall Street — as White is a former top prosecutor and defense lawyer with an impressive (and aggressive) record — their accompanying stories also point out she lacks knowledge of Wall Street arcana. "Regulatory chiefs are often market experts or academics," Dealbook notes. "The gaps in her résumé could complicate Ms. White's agenda in the face of fierce Wall Street lobbying." CNN senior editor Stephen Gandel echoes this sentiment, labeling White "the right woman at the wrong time" and pointing out that, while she might help to change the perception that the SEC was soft on Wall Street crime, she's unlikely to focus on regulating key areas of the market, like high-frequency trading. "What we need now, it seems, is someone who can lay down the rules, still not finalized from Dodd-Frank, that will not just hopefully limit Wall Street malfeasance but its propensity for stupidity as well," Gandel writes. And the Journal points out there's a potential glitch in White's resume: her prior representation of top Wall Street firms, including JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, while serving as a defense attorney with Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. "Obama administration ethics rules would bar Ms. White for two years from working on certain matters involving her former law firm or any clients handled in the prior two years," the article notes. "That might affect enforcement cases in particular."
Meanwhile, reaction to Obama's other big announcement — the renomination of CFPB Director Richard Cordray — has been pretty consistent: It may be difficult to get Republican leaders to confirm him. "Immediately out of the gate, Republican leaders — still fuming over Cordray's recess appointment a year ago — challenged the move," this American Banker article notes. "Their position appears identical to when, in May 2011, Republicans mounted a campaign to block any potential director to run the bureau … unless the administration supported reforms to its structure."
Gorman Gets a Pay Cut: JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon isn't the only CEO who might have to rebalance his personal budget this year. A regulatory filing indicates Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman is also on the receiving end of a 2012 pay cut, though how much less he will make remains unclear. News outlets who reviewed the filing (and then spoke to some anonymous sources) present varying estimates, but it looks as if Gorman's total compensation will be somewhere between the $10.5 million some believe he took home back in 2011 and $6 million. This will be the second annual pay cut for Gorman, whose total compensation was down 25% in 2011. The cuts are related to larger challenges and restructuring efforts within his firm. Earlier this month, news broke that Morgan Stanley planned to cut 1,600 jobs, including some high-paying senior positions, in its institutional securities group in an effort to cut expenses. The pay cut is likely to make Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, the highest paid investment chief on Wall Street. Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times, Reuters
Wall Street Journal
To recoup losses related to the financial crisis, numerous pension funds "are loading up on private equity and other nontraditional investments that promise high, steady returns in the face of low interest rates and a volatile stock market."
Company emails indicate that senior managers at Barclays knew the bank "was lowballing its submissions to the rate-setting process in November 2007, almost a year earlier than previously disclosed."
New York Times
More good news for Goldman Sachs: A jury rejected claims from an American couple that the bank had failed to uncover that the Belgian company they were selling their business to was a fraud. Evidence presented in the trial showed that the investment firm had simply been hired to structure and negotiate the deal and not conduct a financial analysis. Goldman was also able to produce a memo that advised the couple to do a comprehensive accounting of their buyer. A choice quote from Goldman's lawyers: "When you hire a banker, you ask it to do certain things, but delving into the books, doing accounting and finding fraud, is not one of them."
Long-time Wall Street financier and former Treasury advisor Steven Rattner pens a glowing op-ed on the legacy of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, whose last day in office is today. Rattner wrote the op-ed after attending an event Geithner hosted to thank recruits who helped after the financial crisis. "Leaving the reception, I walked past the portraits of previous Treasury secretaries that line the building's wide hallways and mused about how history would assess Tim," he writes. "Near great? Without a doubt. Great? Certainly warranted, in my estimation."
An article breaks down the little that is known about Treasury Secretary nominee Jack Lew's time at Citi. "His résumé isn't sterling from this perspective," one source tells the paper."Citigroup was one of the bad firms on Wall Street."