Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Reopened: Cypriot banks reopened this morning, after being closed for nearly two weeks due to the country's financial crisis, but there are limits to what customers can do at their branches. Per the Post, cash withdrawals will be limited to 300 euros ($383) per person a day, transactions with other countries will be capped at 5,000 euros and those travelling won't be able to take more than 1,000 euros (as well as the equivalent sum in foreign currency) along for the trip. Cypriot banks were "braced" for an outflow of money once doors reopened, but, according to this Journal article, things thus far have been fairly quiet. "For the moment … the only crush at the branch was from the swarms of foreign journalists that have descended on the island over the past few days," the paper reports, adding that some Cypriots are waiting until the weekend to make withdrawals in order not "to topple the banks" the government is trying to protect. Meanwhile, U.S. markets are slipping because "investors just can't get past Europe" and German politicians are worried about all the criticism Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble have received as a result of the controversial Cyprus bailout. Another Journal article outlines how Cyprus' big banks ended up in financial ruin. The short version: It involves a lot of bad bets on Greece. It also appears regulators did little to flag (or stop) the exposure. Per the article, "both Cypriot banks passed Europe-wide stress tests in 2010, relieving them of pressure to change course. They passed again in 2011."
Wall Street Journal
Remember the 17 state lawsuits filed against Standard & Poor's alleging the firm put out shoddy and misleading ratings during the financial crisis? S&P is working to have these suits consolidated into one, noting that "rating firms are regulated under U.S. securities laws." Also, its lawyers argue, the cases are pretty much the same anyway. State AGs involved in the litigation say there's "no legal basis to give the rating firm what it wants." A decision on the matter is expected in coming months.
Hedge fund managers who specialize in bonds are starting to turn to stocks, "after a flood of cash has pushed up the prices of all sorts of debt investments."
JPMorgan Chase is set to overtake Goldman Sachs' top spot on the M&A advisory league table this quarter, but one big deal could shake up the race, meaning, essentially it's still too close to call.
The U.K.'s Financial Policy Committee, led by Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn King, is telling the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group to raise an extra £6 billion and £3 billion respectively by the end of 2013, after a scrutiny of bank balance sheets revealed U.K. banks collectively were overstating their capital. Said one unnamed bank executive about the FPC's directive for U.K. banks to raise capital, "this is the view of Mervyn and his capital jihadists. It is not necessarily the view of regulators on the ground."
New York Times
Fifteen banks, including Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and UBS, are trying to overturn court rulings that "limit the amount of so-called discovery they can collect, including depositions and internal documents" while trying to fight the lawsuit filed by the Federal Housing Finance Authority back in 2011. The FHFA's lawsuit alleges the banks knowingly sold Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bad mortgage securities.
After "a grueling four-year stint at the Justice Department," Lanny Breuer is set to rejoin the law firm Covington & Burling as vice chairman. His role will essentially involve defending large corporations.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency is staying busy this week. The agency announced on Wednesday that borrowers who are more than 90 days late on mortgages payments will become automatically eligible for a modification to their loan. Fannie and Freddie will use existing "screening measures to prevent strategic defaulters."
Brian Moynihan told Charlie Rose on Tuesday being CEO of Bank of America was the best job ever. The full quote making the rounds among media outlets: "While there have been times when you sit there and say, 'Jeez, this is a lot of pounding,' you always keep your eye on the purpose you're here. And that's to help people with their financial lives —- if you really keep focused on that, I could do this the rest of my life." OK, sure, but will B of A let him?
And Lastly ...
Editor's note: Morning Scan will not publish on Friday, March 29 in observance of the Good Friday holiday. We'll be back on Monday, April 1.