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morning scan

Morning Scan: New Credit Score for the Underbanked; Ex-Chargers Linebacker Sues B of A

Wall Street Journal Fair Isaac is developing a new credit score that's aimed at the millions of people who currently don't have credit scores and are cut off from auto loans, credit cards and mortgages. About 53 million Americans are now unable to qualify for most types of bank-issued consumer credit because they don't have a credit history. The product "is largely a response to banks’ desire to boost lending volumes by increasing loan originations to…

Morning Scan: Federal Agents Nabbed in Silk Road Heist; JPMorgan Execs Deposed

Receiving Wide Coverage ... When Nob Met Dread: Two federal officials assigned to investigate Silk Road, the digital marketplace for drugs that only accepted payment via Bitcoin, have been charged with illegally using the defunct black-market service to enrich themselves. An agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration and a Secret Service agent have resigned and been charged with money laundering and wire fraud. The DEA agent, named Carl Mark Force IV, has also been charged with…

Morning Scan: Mortgage Foreclosure Cases May Soon End; Barney Frank's Autobiography

Wall Street Journal In a review of former Sen. Barney Frank's new autobiography, "Frank: A Life in Politics From the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage," the Wall Street Journal recounts what former House Speaker Tip O'Neill told his colleague: Frank could have been the first Jewish Speaker of the House of Representatives, had he not been gay. James Kirchick's review says little about Frank's work on banking matters, and doesn't mention the Dodd-Frank Act. "Many readers'…

Morning Scan: CFPB-Payday Loan Grumbling; Porat's Worth to Google

Receiving Wide Coverage ... Too Much or Not Enough: Depending on who you ask, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's newly proposed restrictions on payday lenders may be characterized as a prime example of regulatory overreaching or as a milquetoast response to toxic practices. Both consumer advocates and payday lending supporters are disappointed by the CFPB's proposals, according to the New York Times. "A chorus of consumer groups said that loopholes in the proposal could still leave…

Morning Scan: Payday Loan Reforms Previewed; Amex Is Mum on Plans

Wall Street Journal The Journal takes a look at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's upcoming rules for payday lenders, set to be released today, as did American Banker in today's edition. The Journal's piece includes a quote from Lauren Saunders at the National Consumer Law Center, who said the CFPB's proposal doesn't go far enough. "The CFPB has taken an either/or approach: prevention or protection. But borrowers need both," Saunders said. The Journal also quoted Dennis…

Morning Scan: Is Silicon Valley Winning the Battle for Talent?

Receiving Wide Coverage ... Go West, CFOs: Ruth Porat's move from chief financial officer at Morgan Stanley to the same position at Google has sparked a surge of think pieces on Wall Street's diminished lure compared to the creative yet lucrative jobs in Silicon Valley — and more than a few contrarian responses. The New York Times' Neil Irwin cheers Porat's decision as an indicator that the tech sector has dibs on the country's top talent,…

Morning Scan: Foreign Banks' Living Wills Get Thumbs Down; NYSE May Delist Ocwen

Receiving Wide Coverage ... Living Will Letdowns: When it comes to living wills, banks face a tough crowd. So it may not come as a total shock that regulators rejected the living wills of foreign banks BNP Paribas, HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland Group, instructing them to address deficiencies in their wind-down plans for U.S. units by the end of the year or face possible sanctions. Eleven U.S. banks received similar orders from the Federal…

Morning Scan: Would More Skin in the Game Make Banks Safer?

Wall Street Journal Zions Bancorp is a comparatively small and simple fish in the "too big to fail" pond, but it's among the banks that's struggled most with the Federal Reserve's stress tests. The paper implies that Zions' predicament may be indicative of the problems with the $50-billion asset threshold used to determine which institutions are systemically important. The Salt Lake City lender focuses on "meat and potatoes banking," like lending and taking deposits, whereas most…

Morning Scan: BNY Mellon to Pay $714M to Settle Forex Case; B of A's Breakup Proposal

Receiving Wide Coverage ... Not the Best: Bank of New York Mellon agreed to pay $714 million to settle litigation that accused the custody bank of defrauding clients on currency transactions. Stemming from a lawsuit filed in February 2011, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney and the New York State Attorney General said BNY Mellon gave some clients worse prices on foreign currency trades than promised. Put another way, BNY Mellon promised "best execution" of the foreign-currency trades,…

Morning Scan: Banks in Energy Loan Pickle; Fed Flexible on Rate-Hike Timing

Receiving Wide Coverage ... Embrace the Unknown: The Federal Reserve is "patient" no more, but it's not exactly raring for an interest-rate hike. In dropping the word from its statement Wednesday, the Federal Open Market Committee made room for the possibility that it will increase its benchmark rate as soon as June without committing itself to that timeline. "If the strengthening dollar and falling oil prices start to translate into still-lower expectations for future inflation, the…

Morning Scan: Facebook Readies Money-Transfer; Citi, Barclays to Settle Forex Suit

Receiving Wide Coverage ... Facebook 'Likes' Payments: Comes now Facebook to the electronic money-transfer wars. Facebook will let users send money to friends, Romans and countrymen using its Messenger service, the Times, Journal and FT all reported, citing a Facebook blog post. It's Facebook's first foray into peer-to-peer money transfers. The service is free (for now) and a user only has to upload a Visa or MasterCard debit card to her Facebook account. The service will…

Morning Scan: Apple Pay Fraud Questions; Military Members Victimized by Arbitration

Wall Street Journal Citigroup is among at least a dozen companies that have given in to activist shareholders' demands to nominate directors, a strategy known as proxy access. Calpers, one of the largest activist shareholders, describes the trend as a "sea change," while the New York City Comptroller said it's only a matter of time before most companies allow for proxy access. New York Times …

Morning Scan: Rebound in Bank Stocks Not Expected Soon; Stress Test Complaints

Wall Street Journal Tap the brakes on those hopes for a rebound in bank stocks in the near future. The same old worries bank investors know so well are expected to continue this year, analysts and investors told the Wall Street Journal. Low interest rates will continue to compress profit margins. Excessive U.S. regulations continue to drive up costs. Legal bills will also remain elevated. These reasons are cited by analysts and money managers quoted in…

Morning Scan: Mastering the Art of Stress Tests; SEC's Tough Enough, Says White

Receiving Wide Coverage ... Practice Makes Perfect: Have U.S. banks finally cracked the code on stress tests? Whatever your opinion, there's an article that will reaffirm it. The Wall Street Journal suggests the Fed's annual capital review still keeps banks guessing, pointing out that Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley all overshot their proposed shareholder payouts by a significant margin. They collectively shaved off at least $11 billion in payouts in order to meet the…

Morning Scan: Muddling Through Stress Tests; Do Big Banks Need Fresh Blood?

Receiving Wide Coverage ... Stress Test Wrap: All 31 of the biggest U.S. banks managed to pass the Fed's stress tests this year, but for four of them it was less a "flying colors" sort of victory and more about muddling through. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley received approval for their capital-payout plans only after adjusting them to ensure their capital ratios stayed above minimum requirements. Bank of America got conditional approval to go…

Morning Scan: Boost for Bitcoin; More Stress Test Stress

Receiving Wide Coverage ... Bitcoin's Big Coming Out: So maybe Bitcoin isn't just for money launderers and drug dealers. Some well-placed folks must think Bitcoin has a role in the mainstream. Two examples emerged on Tuesday of new efforts to expand Bitcoin's use by the broader establishment. Blythe Masters, a former JPMorgan Chase executive, has been named chief executive of Digital Asset Holdings, a new Bitcoin trading platform. Masters helped pioneer the credit-derivatives market in the…

Morning Scan: Feds Worried About Nomura Litigation?; Cuomo Blasted

Wall Street Journal An unsigned Journal editorial makes the argument that the feds are scared out of their wits by the potential of going to a jury trial in a case involving mortgage-backed securities. Japanese bank Nomura — one of the 18 banks named in the Federal Housing Finance Agency 's 2011 lawsuit — is willing to fight the government's lawsuit claiming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were victimized by the banks, which didn't inform the…

Morning Scan: Credit Agencies Agree to Revamp Dispute Process; Stress-Test Prep

Receiving Wide Coverage ... Credit-Reporting Shakeup: Three credit-reporting giants have agreed to change the way they handle errors and unpaid medical bills in a deal with New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Equifax, Experian and TransUnion will carry out most of the changes on a nationwide scale in what the Wall Street Journal calls "the biggest reform for the credit-reporting industry since 2003." The settlement includes two big changes, according to the paper, which got…

Morning Scan: Apple Pay Takes Flak for Fraud; How Useful Are Fed Stress Tests?

Receiving Wide Coverage ... Taking Stock of the Stress Tests: All 31 banks subject to the Federal Reserve's stress tests had enough capital to survive the central bank's crisis scenario, but many in the media say this may not be the most reliable indicator of how banks would manage in a real recession. The problem is it's hard to predict what a crisis will actually look like, Stanford finance and economics professor Anat Admati tells the…

Morning Scan: NY Fed Loses Authority Over Big Banks; The Shadow Banking Threat

Receiving Wide Coverage ... Blast from the Fed's Past: Newly released transcripts from the Federal Reserve's 2009 policy meetings offer fresh insight in the mindsets of central bank officials during the rocky aftermath of the financial crisis. The New York Times' Neil Irwin condemns the Fed for worrying so much about the consequences of their actions that they hesitated to adopt stronger measures at the time. "By 2009 virtually the entire committee had a clear understanding…

Morning Scan: CFPB to Issue Mandatory Arbitration Proposal; Apple Pay Fraud

Wall Street Journal Is this the first wave of backlash to Apple Pay? Or was it simply to be expected that it was only a matter of time before hackers cracked the Apple Pay code? Either way, some banks say they've seen an increasing amount of fraud on Apple Pay devices. The weakness in the system is apparently related to the verification process associated with a user adding a credit card to the service, unnamed sources…

Morning Scan: Stressed About Stress Tests; Buffett Bites Bankers

Receiving Wide Coverage ... Nothing But Stress: Foreign banks are stressed about the stress tests. Deutsche Bank and Santander are both expected to be called out by the Federal Reserve on Thursday, when the stress test results are announced, for lapses in risk management. Capital isn't the issue with foreign banks. Instead, it's how they measure and predict risks and losses. DB, Santander, Barclays, Credit Suisse, HSBC and UBS are "now spending heavily and recruiting project…

Morning Scan: Wells Fargo Caps Subprime Auto Lending; Holder's Deadline

Wall Street Journal The Dodd-Frank restriction on the Federal Reserve's authority to be a lender of last resort poses a threat to financial stability, Glenn Hubbard, former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush, and Hal Scott, a Harvard Law School professor, write in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. Restrictions on federal guarantees for bank deposits and money market funds also contribute to the threat. The Fed's lender-of-last-resort authority…

Morning Scan: CIT, OneWest Deal in Public Eye; Winters Cheered as Standard CEO

Receiving Wide Coverage ... CIT, Censures and Selfies: Bank chiefs don't often find themselves defending their business decisions to community members in a public hearing, but then again the $3.4 billion proposed merger between CIT Group and OneWest is a pretty big deal in more ways than one. CIT chief executive John Thain and OneWest CEO Joseph Otting told a panel of banking regulators in Los Angeles Thursday that their plan to create a $70 billion…

Morning Scan: Yellen Confronts Partisan Charges; Is Lending Club Overrated?

Receiving Wide Coverage ... Morgan Stanley Strikes Deal with DOJ: Morgan Stanley has agreed to pay $2.6 billion to settle charges that it misled investors about the quality of mortgage-backed securities during the run-up to the financial crisis. The deal will make a significant dent in the bank's 2014 earnings, lowering net income by $2.7 billion, or more than a third. The amount of the penalty was higher than analysts expected, according to the Wall Street…

Morning Scan: Fed Flexible on Rate Hike; JPM Battles Calls for Break Up

Receiving Wide Coverage ... The Oracle of D.C.: The papers offer varying interpretations of Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen's testimony before the Senate Banking Committee. The New York Times says Yellen sought to give the central bank leeway in the timeline of its interest-rate increase. Fed officials could firm up plans to raise rates as soon as June at a March policy meeting, but "Yellen emphasized that patience remained the Fed's watchword, and that the persistence…

Morning Scan: HSBC Problems Aplenty; Precious Metals Probe Targets 10 Banks

Receiving Wide Coverage ... HSBC Sweats in the Spotlight: The hits keep on coming for HSBC. The U.K. bank on Monday announced subpar earnings for 2014 and lowered its financial targets, while chief executive Stuart Gulliver was pummeled with questions about the $7.7 million he opted to hold in a Swiss bank account through a Panamanian company until 2003. Tax experts tell the Times that Gulliver's arrangement was legal, but it's not terrific press for a…

Morning Scan: Caution Signs Ahead for Rollback of Bank Regs; U.K. Bank Woes

Wall Street Journal Dark clouds are hovering over the effort to amend Dodd-Frank and other bank regulations, in some measure because the new GOP leadership on Capitol Hill is trying to make changes beyond what banks have asked for. At a recent meeting at a Washington hotel, according to anonymous sources, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., reiterated his stance that he wants to axe the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's independent funding stream; and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas,…

Morning Scan: Fears Raised on Hack of Phone-Card Maker; JPMorgan's Cyber Army

Receiving Wide Coverage ... Hacked Off: So much for mobile banking. The Dutch company Gemalto, the world's largest maker of SIM cards for mobile phones, was hacked by a joint team from the National Security Agency and the U.K.'s counterpart intelligence agency. (The report comes from documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to the website The Intercept.) Gemalto sells its SIM cards to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and other telecom companies. Gemalto's financial institution clients…

Morning Scan: Timing of Interest-Rate Hike Questioned; Subprime Borrowing Booms

Receiving Wide Coverage ... Tapping the Brakes?: Hold your horses on that rate increase. According to analyses in the Financial Times and the New York Times, members of the Federal Open Market Committee appear to remain divided over when to start raising short-term interest rates, based on minutes of the committee's Jan. 27-28 meeting, released on Wednesday. (The Wall Street Journal, however, offers a somewhat-more bullish view of the minutes.) A "premature" rise in rates could…

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