Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Happy Primary Day, New Yorkers! Did you vote yet? Besides eliminating some of the approximately 43 people running for mayor, you also have a chance to weigh in on the Sheriff of Wall Street's attempted return to elected office. Eliot Spitzer is vying with (and currently behind in the polls) Scott Stringer for the job of New York City comptroller, a role that entails running the city's pension funds and potentially making life even more interesting for Jamie Dimon. Speaking of JPMorgan Chase…
Your Daily Dose of Dimon: The embattled bank chairman/CEO is relinquishing a few more of his responsibilities, although not the joint title that some shareholders had so many objections to earlier this year. JPMorgan Chase is beefing up the responsibilities and title of Lee Raymond, now its "lead independent director." The board also named two new members: Linda Bammann, a former senior risk executive at JPMorgan and predecessor Bank One, and Michael Neal, a vice chairman of General Electric and the recently retired chairman/CEO of GE Capital. They replace Ellen Futter and David Cote, who both resigned earlier this year after drawing widespread criticism for their lack of banking industry experience.
Many surely disinterested sources rushed to assure the Wall Street Journal just how independent and "strong" these changes make the board and Raymond, who "already was a strong enough board presence that he could call a board meeting without Mr. Dimon's permission," these anonymous people say. More of those folks tell the newspaper that Bammann and Neal "are expected to join the board's risk-policy committee and become candidates to lead the committee over time. … At Bank One, Ms. Bammann earned a reputation for standing up to Mr. Dimon, said one of these people. "She's not intimidated. She doesn't back down,'' this person said." A bank spokesman, who must have been distraught over all of the unnamed leakers saying wonderful things about the bank and its new directors, declined to comment to the Journal.
Not everyone is so pleased, however; CtW Investment Group, which advises union pension funds, objected to Bammann's existing ties to Dimon, and influential California pension fund Calpers told the Financial Times that "it would continue to press for additional board changes, including the resignation of the one remaining member of the risk committee." In a column, FT banking editor Tom Braithwaite also examined some of the institutional hurdles to investors trying to force change at JPMorgan and other banks.
In other JPMorgan Chase news, chief financial officer Marianne Lake yesterday said that regulators' "crescendo of activity" surrounding the bank has caused it to increase its legal reserves by at least $1.5 billion and hire an additional 3,000 employees to improve its internal controls and compliance.
And, lest you worry this was going to be a light news week for JPMorgan Chase, in yet other news, the bank on Friday settled a class-action lawsuit over alleged kickbacks on its force-placed insurance policies. The bank and Assurant have agreed to pay about $300 million to settle the claims, "in an agreement that could loom large for other big banks alleged to have overbilled homeowners on insurance premiums," American Banker's Kevin Wack writes. American Banker, Wall Street Journal, New York Times
Ghosts of the Financial Crisis: Today in five-year-anniversary coverage, the Journal takes a look at how "life on Wall Street," as illustrated by investment bank Morgan Stanley, has become less risky, while Credit Suisse CEO Brady Dougan warns the FT that regulations have shifted "a fair amount of risk" to shadow banks and other parts of the system. In an op-ed, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney assesses the "uneven progress" of post-crisis banking reforms. And Andrew Ross Sorkin uses his "Dealbook" column to wonder what would have happened if the government had bailed out Lehman Brothers.
Wall Street Journal
Rising interest rates are squeezing banks' mortgage businesses. Wells Fargo and JPMorgan both warned investors Monday of slowdowns in their mortgage originations.
New York Times
An article looks at the "invasive tactics" used by some of the property-management firms that work for banks, and the mounting state regulatory interest in those firms and the lenders who employ them.