Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Mixed reviews: JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, the first two big American banks to report third-quarter earnings, beat analysts' profit and revenue estimates but still disappointed investors, leading to an across-the-board drop in bank stocks on Thursday. Most of the improvements came from cost-cutting rather than revenue gains, particularly in credits cards, although cards came with their own set of problems.
The results, the Wall Street Journal said, "pointed to early signs of a potential deterioration in consumer-credit quality, which could be a concern for a host of lenders and credit-card issuers." (Also see: Credit card losses are mounting. Worrisome trend or worth tolerating?)
Indeed, despite "solid earnings" overall, the results at JPM and Citi "flashed a warning signal on consumer debt that investors in some other companies should heed," the Journal's Heard on the Street column warned, noting the "continued deterioration in both banks' U.S. credit-card portfolios."
"These levels of losses are easily manageable for megabanks like Citigroup and JPMorgan, but the fact that they are worse than anticipated at Citigroup is still worrisome for other lenders who focus more narrowly on credit-card lending," the column said. "It is a reminder that companies have limited visibility into how loans will perform after consumers have loaded up on credit card, auto and student debt in recent years."
The Financial Times said the "mixed" results at the two big banks are "the latest sign that Donald Trump's election has yet to produce the expected boost to big finance that has driven a historic share price rally in the sector."
The New York Times was equally negative. "There may be no obvious calamity ahead," it said. "But there are enough obstacles to slow American bank bulls down."
Meanwhile, Gillian Tett, the FT's U.S. managing editor, has already moved on from the sector. She suggests investors look into "the nameless world of non-banks as well. For one little secret about finance today is that the banking sector is not the really interesting game in town; instead, the real credit growth — and innovation — is now occurring in the world of private capital."
Rave reviews: John Flint's selection as the next CEO of HSBC seems to have been met with a mostly positive response. Chairman Mark Tucker called him "the best and optimal fit" for the job, while others called him a "safe pair of hands" and a "very solid choice" to replace Stuart Gulliver beginning next February. Wall Street Journal, Financial Times
Another attack?: Equifax said it moved one of its consumer webpages offline as a precaution as it looks into whether hackers tried to enter it this week, although it said it was confident that the site had not been breached.
"Equifax can confirm that its systems were not compromised and that the reported issue did not affect our consumer online dispute portal," a spokesperson for the credit reporting agency said in a statement. "The issue involves a third-party vendor that Equifax uses to collect website performance data, and that vendor's code running on an Equifax website was serving malicious content. Since we learned of the issue, the vendor's code was removed from the webpage and we have taken the webpage offline to conduct further analysis." Wall Street Journal, Washington Post
Wall Street Journal
Settled: Deutsche Bank, Citigroup and HSBC agreed to pay a combined $132 million to settle charges that they rigged Libor. The banks didn't admit wrongdoing.
Back in it: Goldman Sachs is buying Genesis Capital, a leading lender to house flippers. The seven-year-old private Los Angeles-based company originated $1 billion in loans last year, up from just $50 million in 2013.
"The acquisition, which could be announced as soon as this week, reflects both the buoyancy of the housing market about a decade after it last peaked and the growing interest Goldman Sachs has in diversifying its businesses as its core trading engines remain stuck in a post-crisis slump," the Journal commented. But it also "inches Goldman closer to residential mortgages, an area executives have eyed warily, mindful of the public-relations and regulatory drubbing the firm took during the financial crisis for its subprime trading activities."
New rating criteria: A new company backed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has begun rating financial institutions based on their vulnerability to financial crime. Sigma Ratings, which was founded last November 2016, issued its first rating on Wednesday, rating FIMBank PLC of Malta a 7.24 out of 10 based on its proprietary algorithm.
Moving across the pond: Michael Roemer, Barclays' compliance chief, is leaving the U.K. bank to join Wells Fargo in a similar capacity. He will start his new job at the end of the month. A banker interviewed by the FT said Roemer's departure is not connected to the regulatory probe into Barclays CEO Jes Staley for attempting to uncover the identity of a whistleblower at the bank.
"We see this as something as fundamentally important as a credit rating." — Stuart Jones Jr., CEO of Sigma Ratings, which has begun rating financial companies based on their susceptibility to financial crime.