Facebook plans crypto-based payments system; Sloan was a keeper

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No Moore
President Trump said Stephen Moore withdrew from consideration for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, the president’s second wannabe nominee to back out in the face of growing Republican opposition in the Senate. Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, American Banker

The decision by Moore, and Herman Cain before him, to withdraw from Fed consideration “doesn’t necessarily indicate the Fed will remain entirely insulated from more partisan pressure. The upshot is that it could be premature to conclude Senate Republicans would torpedo future efforts to install more overtly partisan nominees, provided they don’t have some of the same personal baggage as the recent picks.”

Check it out
Checkout Ltd., “a little-known European startup with no history of raising money,” has attracted $230 million in investor money, boosting the valuation of the company to nearly $2 billion. The London-based digital-payments processor enables retailers to accept credit cards and other payment types for their online stores. Wall Street Journal, Financial Times

Good show
HSBC’s first quarter profit jumped 34% to $4.13 billion from $3.09 billion a year earlier, well ahead of the $3.7 billion consensus estimate. Wall Street Journal, Financial Times

Wall Street Journal

Crypto going mainstream
Facebook is building a “cryptocurrency-based payments system on the back of its gigantic social network. At the heart of the initiative, under way for more than a year and code-named Project Libra, is a digital coin that its users could send to each other and use to make purchases both on Facebook and across the internet. The effort, should it succeed, threatens to upend the traditional, lucrative plumbing of e-commerce and would likely be the most mainstream application yet of cryptocurrency.”

Sloan backer
Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charlie Munger defended former Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan and said Sloan would still be running the bank if it was up to him. “He’s a very good bank lender,” Munger said. “All these banks are using the government’s credit to get the money, and all of them will tend to make stupid loans. So when you get a good lender, that’s the last person you want to throw out. I would have kept Sloan, myself, but nobody asked me.” Berkshire is Wells’ biggest shareholder.

Giants team up
JPMorgan Chase said it will use Microsoft’s cloud-based services “to boost its blockchain platform, aiming to make it easier, faster and cheaper for companies to build and deploy blockchain applications.” The platform, called Quorum, “will allow enterprises to build new blockchain applications in as little as a few weeks without needing as much expertise.”

Data dump
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed changes to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act that would exempt small banks and credit unions from collecting information from mortgage borrowers. “The proposed changes were welcomed by some industry groups as a step to reduce the costs to sell a mortgage, but drew criticism from consumer advocates who said the moves would undermine efforts to ensure equal access to housing.”

Protecting borrowers
Ginnie Mae is considering excluding some refinance loans backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs from inclusion in its mortgage-backed securities in order to stop “churning,” in which lenders repeatedly entice borrowers to refinance in order to boost their fees, while "hurting both borrowers and investors."

Financial Times

Pyrrhic victory?
Edward Bramson got only 6% of the vote from shareholders in his bid for a seat on the board of Barclays. But that doesn’t mean CEO Jes Staley is off the hot seat. “Mr. Staley must now do anything and everything to hit this year’s return on tangible equity target — to prove Mr. Bramson wrong. But that will almost certainly require some drastic and hasty decisions.”

Washington Post

Right sentiment
JPMorgan Chase, which was roundly criticized by politicians and consumers for suggesting earlier this week that people struggling financially should eat at home rather than go out, received some support from the paper. The bank “was not wrong to encourage less frivolous spending and more saving,” personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary writes. “But it’s hard to dispense financial advice that doesn’t sound condescending when you’re a big financial institution. ... JPMorgan Chase was chastened and rightfully so.” Still, she said, “We shouldn’t dismiss the truth in what the bank said. The advice wasn’t worthless. Sound financial principles of living within your means have helped many low- and middle-income families survive and thrive.”

Quotable

“We’d both like somebody who’s already proved he’s a good banker. Not from Wall Street. We don’t like the Wall Street crowd that is making the damn decisions.” — Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charlie Munger on his and chairman Warren Buffett’s preference for the next CEO of Wells Fargo.

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