Receiving Wide Coverage ...

Big Bank CEOs vs. the Fiscal Cliff: Big bank CEOs are intensifying their efforts to get Congress to deal with the looming fiscal cliff, convening to discuss the issue over lunch at JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon's house and releasing a letter intended to sway legislators toward a budget compromise. "We write today to urge you to work together to reach a bipartisan agreement to avoid the approaching 'fiscal cliff,' and take concrete steps to restore the United States' long-term fiscal footing," says the letter, which was signed by Dimon, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat and several others. But many news outlets have been quick to criticize the big bankers' oh-so-noble efforts. A Bloomberg article calls the letter "worthless" since Congress isn't wrangling over whether to address the deficit — like big bankers, legislators generally agree that's a good idea — but rather on how exactly to do so. "Instead of these wise men giving members of Congress permission to buck their own parties, the CEOs fail to explain what such a bipartisan agreement should look like," staff writer Brendan Greenley writes. Meanwhile, Slate blogger Matthew Yglesias quickly points out the letter itself presents a contradiction, since the fiscal cliff is a policy to reduce "the ratio of federal debt to GDP over the medium term," and suggests what big bankers really fear is not another recession, but rather an expiration of the Bush tax cuts that would come with going over the cliff. "It's easy to see why you'd care a lot about that if you happened to be a multi-millionaire bank CEO, but it has basically nothing to do with the 2013 growth outlook," Yglesias writes. "If you care about inequality, jumping off the cliff offers by far the best chance for addressing it."

The Volcker News: Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker's polarizing proprietary trading rule re-entered the news cycle after Standard & Poor's warned "an especially stringent version of the yet-to-be finished rule" might prompt the agency to downgrade the ratings of some big banks. The Times reports Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, PNC, U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo among the institutions with ratings that could be affected by the rule's implementation. Meanwhile, the Journal writes the rule is suffering some setbacks of its own as banking regulators and the Securities and Exchange Commission continue to butt heads over how to oversee market-making activities. They also can't seem to agree on how to define the funds in which banks are prohibited from investing. These contentions could easily delay the final rule's implementation, which currently has a July deadline, or cause the sparring groups to put out different versions of it, "a recipe for chaos" within the banking industry.

Wall Street Journal

AIG has elected to pay $11 million to settle a probe into its handling of death benefits. The settlement makes AIG the latest major insurer to settle with regulators "amid accusations the insurance industry has failed to do enough to find beneficiaries of policies they wrote years earlier."

Royal Bank of Canada is very close to buying Ally Financial's Canadian operations unit, a $4 billion deal "that is part of a larger effort by Ally" to repay the $17 billion bailout it received from the government during the financial crisis.

Mortgage real-estate investment trusts are still getting "hammered" due to prevalent "concerns about the sustainability of the sector's dividends."

Financial Times

The paper has put out an interactive graphic that allows readers to get up close and personal with the European debt crisis by exploring "European national banking systems' holdings of the public and private sector debt of other European countries."

New York Times

Dealbook takes a look at who would take over as Federal Reserve chairman and Treasury Secretary following the upcoming presidential election as previous statements from current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and some intel on Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke indicate both posts will be open, regardless of which candidate wins.

Credit bureau Experian has agreed to purchase the stake in the Brazilian credit data provider Serasa "that it does not already own" for $1.5 billion.

Here's a story that may sound familiar: start-ups are threatening bank business in the U.K. "as consumers' trust in banks deteriorates because of a series of recent scandals."

Elsewhere ...

We (marginally) understand why Bloomberg would want to get former Citigroup Chairman Rick Parsons' take on Vikram Pandit's sudden departure as CEO of the financial institution. For the record, Parsons called "the transition and change" from Pandit to now CEO Mike Corbat "in the long-term, not inevitable but appropriate." We're less clear as to why the news outlet felt the need to note (and reinforce in their headline, no less) that Parsons "was sipping a glass of his 2004 Brunello Riserva as he sat outside a stone house set on an ancient trail from Frankfurt to Rome" while telling them this.

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