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Succession plan?: MetLife CEO Steven Kandarian gave "significant" additional responsibilities to two senior executives seen as possible successors. Michel Khalaf, president of the insurer's European, Middle East and African operations, was named president of its U.S. business. EVP Marty Lippert, who runs MetLife's technology and customer service units, was given responsibility for MetLife Holdings, which oversees units that have discontinued new sales. Kandarian has no plans to retire even though he is now 65, the company's usual retirement age. Wall Street Journal, Financial Times
Wall Street Journal
Slow going: Lending growth at European banks has pushed ahead of growth at American banks. Eurozone lending to nonfinancial companies rose by an annual rate of 2.4% in May, its fastest pace since mid-2009. That beat the 2% growth rate so far this month at U.S. banks. That's the first time that has happened since early 2011, the Journal said.
With growth flagging, U.S. banks won't be getting much help from the yield curve, which has recently flattened, even as the Federal Reserve has started to raise short-term interest rates. At the same time, though, long-term rates have either held steady or fallen.
"Rising interest rates are good for banks. A flatter yield curve isn't," the Journal notes. "A flatter yield curve threatens to pinch bank profits, even as the Fed's move to end nearly a decade of near-zero rates promises to help bolster them."
No time to waste: Charles W. Calomiris, a professor of finance at Columbia Business School, is worried that the "effort to repeal the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act and reform American financial regulation seems to be losing traction." And, he says in an op-ed piece in Friday's Journal, "delay is damaging."
"The Financial Choice Act is a good start, but there's no time to waste," he writes. "The longer the Senate waits to take up Mr. Hensarling's bill, the more harm the current regulations will do to America's financial system, the economy and the rule of law."
Not a happy father: A fraud investigator at JPMorgan Chase in Columbus, Ohio, is suing the bank, claiming that it discriminates against fathers when it comes to parental leave. The bank offers fathers 16 weeks of paid leave after a child's birth if they will be the baby's primary caregiver, but only two weeks if they are the non-primary caregiver. Biological mothers get 16 weeks. The suit claims JPM's policy violates federal and state laws that bars employers from discriminating against workers based on gender or gender-based stereotypes. He was joined in his charge by the American Civil Liberties Union.
No poaching: The Department of Justice is looking into whether Barclays violated U.S. antitrust laws by agreeing not to poach employees from JPMorgan Chase, the former employer of Barclays CEO Jes Staley.
Getting better: Despite nine straight years of losses and another one expected this year, Royal Bank of Scotland's long-term debt rating was raised to investment grade by Moody's on Thursday. "The ratings upgrade comes in spite of the cloud still hanging over the bank in the form of a costly expected settlement of U.S. authorities' allegations that it missold mortgage securities before the financial crisis," the FT said. Moody's said the increase, to Baa3, the lowest investment-grade level, reflects the bank's "stronger standalone financial profile."
New York Times
Still struggling: In a follow-up story to the one it broke on Wednesday, the Times isn't buying Wells Fargo's denial that it modified mortgages for borrowers in bankruptcy without their consent or that of the courts. "The trouble is, Wells Fargo has mucked up mortgage lending and modification in the past," it says, noting that it has paid billions of dollars the past few years to settle various charges of poor loan-servicing and foreclosure practices. "Home loans should have been squeaky-clean after all that."
Yet "the bank now run by Timothy J. Sloan is still struggling to get the basics right," the Times says. While "most of Wells Fargo's big rivals appear to have put the worst of their transgressions behind them, Mr. Sloan's shop keeps swerving into new ones."
"The mortgage in some ways is the means, but the end is being home." — Rabbi turned mortgage banker David Frankel.