Receiving Wide Coverage ...
All Over But for the Yellen: A new conventional wisdom has congealed in the week since Larry Summers withdrew his name from consideration: that Janet Yellen will be nominated to take the helm of the Fed. Yellen's seeming momentum was reinforced by a Wall Street Journal report that the White House is urging Democratic senators to defend her against potential attacks. Further feeding the Yellen surge: dueling profiles in the Journal and the Financial Times that may leave readers feeling whiplash. The Journal emphasizes that the Fed's vice chair has clashed with others at the central bank "and left some hard feelings in the wake of those confrontations," while the FT's much more glowing article gives the opposite impression, concluding that "Janet Yellen is unusually kind and decent." Meanwhile, the Washington Post's Ezra Klein writes that Summers lost out because liberal Democrats have big fundamental disagreements with President Obama about financial regulation, and they saw Summers as a stand-in for the president.
Tale of the Taper: Following the Fed's surprise decision not to curtail its bond-buying program, the Journal's Heard on the Street column asks whether the reduction of monetary stimulus will instead begin in December. Its answer: "The economy only needs to get a little bit better over the next few months for the central bank to get its nerve back. That should be an easy bar for the economy to clear." Another Journal piece explores why the stock market got only a short-lived boost from the Fed's announcement. And in the FT, economist Martin Feldstein, who served as President Reagan's top economic adviser, argues that the Fed made the wrong decision last week sending a confusing signal to investors and potentially making it harder to eventually exit the bond-buying program.
The Past, Present and Future of U.S. Mortgages: The Past: Bank of America is scheduled to go to trial Tuesday, facing charges that it defrauded Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by selling them defective loans. The lawsuit, filed last year by federal prosecutors, exposed the Countrywide program known as "the Hustle," or "High Speed Swim Lane." The case will serve as a test of efforts to sue banks for mortgage fraud under an S&L crisis-era law, according to the FT.
The Present: Washington Post blogger Mike Konczal makes the case that Richmond, Calif., is in a strong legal position as it seeks to seize underwater mortgages.
The Future: WSJ's Nick Timiraos writes that the political debate over how to replace Fannie and Freddie is really about whether the pre-payable 30-year fixed-rate mortgage should continue to be a staple of the U.S. housing market. The piece's best line: Fannie and Freddie "are proving to be as difficult to shut down as the U.S.-operated Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba."
Wall Street Journal
An article about the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, the 2010 law that aims to crack down on offshore tax evasion, finds that it's already having a big impact. "Lawyers will always look for loopholes, but there aren't large and obvious ones yet," the paper reports.
Columnist Al Lewis isn't buying the claim that big banks and other corporations marshaled against the SEC's new rule requiring firms to report the ratio between their CEO's salary and the median pay of their employees.
Citigroup is expected next month to report a significant drop in quarterly trading revenues, the paper reports. The news is cast as a setback to chief executive officer Michael Corbat, but not a big enough setback to threaten Citi's year-long profit targets.
The Lex column notes that for all of the talk by bankers about cutting expenses, the expense ratio at the largest U.S. and European banks is about where it was two years ago. And also 10 years ago. "That suggests that all those efforts to cut headcount have been cancelled out by falling revenues and rising costs elsewhere, especially in compliance."
New York Times
Columnist James Stewart chides JPMorgan Chase general counsel Stephen Cutler for presiding over a corporate culture that's hatched scandal after scandal, while also raising the question of whether any other lawyer would have done much better. Cutler is the former SEC enforcement chief who nine years ago said the following to the top legal officers at corporations: "Hold all of your managers accountable for setting the right tone. That means disciplining or even firing them when they have failed to create a culture of compliance."