Receiving Wide Coverage ...

Don't blame bitcoin: Last week's global cyberattack that hit businesses, hospitals and government agencies in at least 150 countries, in which the perpetrators demanded payment in bitcoin, is focusing renewed attention on the digital currency's role in hacking and illegal money movements, the Wall Street Journal reports. "On the other hand," it says, "this latest attack hasn't yet resulted in the same backlash as some other jolts to the often volatile market. Bitcoin's price remains near a record high that reflects a gain of about 80% so far this year."

Indeed, the Financial Times reports, the "sky-high valuations for bitcoin" have helped push the value of all digital currencies past the $50 billion mark, which is in turn "raising fears of an asset bubble in the unregulated market."

"A growing number of alternative digital currencies — or 'alt-coins' — is feeding the speculative frenzy with values in some rocketing as much as 500% in the past week," the FT said. In addition to bitcoin, there are now more than 830 alt-coins on the market.

Wall Street Journal

Let's chat: Bank of America says it is taking a "measured approach" to artificial intelligence. The bank is planning to roll out later this year its AI-powered digital assistant, Erica, to whom customers can chat via voice or text through the bank's mobile app. But the bank plans to use Erica only where it thinks customers will truly benefit, not as a gimmick.

"We're trying to separate the hype from the client need," said Aditya Bhasin, Bank of America's chief information officer for consumer and wealth management technology.


Steve Freiberg.
Steve Freiberg.

Moving on: Nino Fanlo, SoFi's president and CFO, is leaving the online lender at the end of this month to become the finance chief of Human Longevity, a four-year-old genomics company. Fanlo, who will remain a board observer and adviser to SoFi, will be replaced on an interim basis by Steven Freiberg, a former top executive at E*Trade Financial and Citigroup who joined SoFi's board earlier this year.

Staying home: Chinse investment banks are grabbing a larger share of the market for dollar-denominated bond sales by Chinese companies, a business previously dominated by Wall Street firms. So far this year, five Chinese banks rank among the top 10 underwriters of offshore Chinese debt deals, while Chinese firms accounted for just under half of sales volume, up from one spot and 13% of volume five years ago. Chinese companies have been the second biggest issuers of dollar-denominated debt the past two years, behind only American companies.

Financial Times

Biggest fraud?: The Department of Justice is investigating whether major Wall Street banks cheated their customers on prices of U.S. Treasury securities. The "scandal's focus has settled on Goldman Sachs," the paper reports, but UBS, BNP Paribas, RBS and Morgan Stanley received subpoenas last week "in a sign that the two-year-old probe is moving forward."

"If federal prosecutors confirm the claims of cheating on Treasuries, the fallout — for both the big banks and the Trump administration — could dwarf those of earlier frauds," the paper said.

Costs of Brexit: Global banks are facing "hundreds of millions in extra restructuring, funding and legal costs over the next few years to deal with the fallout from Brexit," according to senior executives interviewed by the paper. In the worst case scenario, "they could be forced to move everyone dealing with EU clients, and all their risk and trading functions as well as the capital to support them, to another European country."

New York Times

Staying home: Homeowners are moving less. The median homeowner now stay in a home 8½ years, up from about the 3½ year average in 2008, the longest tenure since 2000. That's creating a drag on both the real estate industry as well as the general economy, the paper reports. This stagnation began out of necessity, with millions of homeowners losing their jobs and stuck in homes worth less than they owed on them.

But now, even though the economy and the housing market have both improved, "economists expect elevated homeowner tenure to continue for the next decade or even longer. That is because the better economy has come with a steady rise in interest rates."

Quotable ...

"The banking system currently shows symptoms of using a bullpen to cage a cat." — Guo Shuqing, head of the China Banking Regulatory Commission

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