Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Hardball: UBS is considering challenging U.S. Department of Justice claims that it defrauded mortgage bond investors, following the example set by Barclays late last year, which refusing to settle with the DOJ. "The Swiss bank has compared notes with its U.K. rival and is looking at taking a similarly hard line" against the agency, the Financial Times reported. "People familiar with UBS's thinking said the Swiss bank had been inspired by Barclays' approach, and was considering taking a similar line if it could not reach an appropriate settlement."
Separately, the New York Times suggests the U.S. Justice Department under President Trump may be less aggressive than its predecessor in pursuing alleged lending discrimination cases. "The new administration's deregulatory fervor has stirred expectations for a pullback in the enforcement of laws aimed at preventing discrimination in lending, a shift that has banks hopeful and consumer advocates on guard," the paper reports.
"Bankers have been frustrated by what they perceive as overzealous enforcement of fair lending rules over the last few years," the paper adds. "But with the change in administration and a focus on deregulation, the banking industry is looking for a swing back."
Wall Street Journal
Considered: Raphael Bostic, a former assistant secretary for policy development and research at the Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama, has emerged as a leading candidate to run the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the paper reports. If appointed, he would become the first African-American president of one of the Fed's 12 regional banks. Bostic, who is now a professor at USC's Sol Price School of Public Policy, would replace Dennis Lockhart, who announced in January he will retire in October.
Risky business?: Tim Throsby, Barclays' new corporate and investment banking chief, is telling his troops something they "haven't heard for years," the paper reports, namely: Don't be afraid to take more risk. "Since his arrival in January, Mr. Throsby has told staff at meetings to reawaken their 'commercial instincts' and use more of the bank's risk appetite."
Watch your cards: January credit card data was negative on two counts. First, revolving debt, which mostly comprises bank and store credit card outstandings, fell slightly compared to the month before after rising 10 straight months, according to the Federal Reserve. At the same time, bad debt figures are rising. Equifax said its three-month moving average of bank card write-offs rose 12% from the three-month period ending in December and up about 24% from a year earlier. Delinquencies rose to 3.21% of outstandings, the highest level since July 2013 and up from 2.52% a year earlier.
Shady: Renovate America, which finances purchases of solar panels and energy-efficient appliances, failed to disclose to the investors who buy its loans that it paid off some of its borrowers' debt in order to maintain its "ultralow" customer default record, the paper reports. The company's investors include mutual funds run by JPMorgan Chase and DoubleLine Capital, which have been told customer default rates are less than 1%.
New York Times
Buy China: In what the paper is calling a "propaganda victory for Beijing" and a "relatively low-risk diplomatic win" for the bank, Citigroup said it will become the first major international benchmark provider to include Chinese sovereign debt in its fixed-income indexes.
The Justice Department "will be a lot more selective in the cases that they pursue, and it's unlikely they will get involved in cases unless there's out-and-out evidence of discrimination." — Alan Kaplinsky, a consumer financial regulation specialist at Ballard Spahr