Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Rough start: Shares of Brighthouse Financial, the newly spun-off retail insurance unit of MetLife, lost 4.4% on its initial day of trading after falling more than 5% earlier in the session. “A large part of Brighthouse’s business has been pinched in recent years by a near decade of ultralow interest rates,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “These rates have hurt the profitability of many types of life insurance as low interest rates depress the income insurers earn by investing customers’ premiums until claims are paid.” Wall Street Journal, Financial Times
Wall Street Journal
You’ll have to wait: JPMorgan Chase customers who lose their debit cards can no longer get instant replacements at bank branches. The bank has quietly canceled the program, mainly due to concerns about fraud. Customers must now wait for a new one to arrive in the mail.
Boosters: Goldman Sachs estimates that the biggest American banks will increase their stock repurchases by 45% this year over 2016 and raise their dividends at an annualized rate of 17% over the next two years. “Increased capital return should boost banks stocks beyond levels implied by interest rates,” said David Kostin, the bank’s chief U.S. equity strategist.
Lowering the bar: On Deck Capital and LendingClub, the two most prominent online lending companies, reported second quarter earnings that benefited from “reduced expectations,” the Heard on the Street column says. “But investors’ sky-high hopes for the sector may have been lowered permanently,” it adds. “Both companies have to worry about rising competition” from the likes of Square, PayPal and Goldman Sachs.
Dropping the chase: The editorial page gives props to U.S. Attorney Joon Kim for seeking "justice rather than headlines” in deciding not to pursue charges against two JPMorgan Chase traders in the London Whale case. “Prosecutors are often reluctant to walk back charges when presented with exculpatory or contradictory evidence,” the editorial notes. “Justice’s failed prosecution underscores that most financial errors aren’t crimes, not that progressives will admit it.”
New partner: Harrods Bank, the financial services unit of the celebrated British department store, will be acquired by startup Tandem, which lost its banking license earlier this year following a failed investment by a Chinese company. Tandem will acquire Harrod’s banking license in the deal.
New York Times
It never ends: The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is looking into yet another misstep by Wells Fargo. According to the paper, Wells failed to refund so called GAP insurance premiums to customers who paid off their auto loans early. The paper says “tens of thousands of customers” may be affected.
Full speed ahead: The Securities and Exchange Commission’s advisory last month that it will vet virtual currency "initial coin offerings" to see if they violate securities laws hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of companies that want to come to market. Rather, “programmers are still embarking on new offerings at a torrid pace,” the paper reports, even though “most of the offerings have little legal oversight and some appear to conflict with the commission’s basic advice.”
Since the SEC released its guidance on July 25, 46 virtual currency offerings have been announced and more than 200 are moving forward. In contrast, only three projects have been canceled or postponed.
“In the end, it was probably too complicated for a lot of folks to understand very well, and the truth is, it was barking up the wrong tree. Much of what I did I now regret.” — Bill Burr, the author of the government’s guide to password management, who now says his 2003 advice was mostly wrong.