Receiving Wide Coverage ...
More time, please: The U.K. government said it will ask the European Commission not to require Royal Bank of Scotland, which is 72% state-owned, to sell its Williams & Glyn branch network by the end of the year. Sale of the branch network was a condition of the $56 billion government bailout of the bank during the financial crisis, but efforts have "been stymied by the pace of the bank's recovery," the New York Times reports. The bank has not reported a full-year profit since 2007. Financial Times, New York Times
Wall Street Journal
The search is on: President Trump has begun the process of filling the vacancies on the Federal Reserve's seven-member board of governors, including the vice chairman for bank supervision and a community banker. He is reportedly "leaning toward candidates with banking and financial world experience rather than academic economists," the Journal reported.
Meet the new boss: The paper looks at the new head of Barclays International, Tim Throsby, a relatively unknown former JPMorgan Chase executive who has been tasked to run the unit that accounts for more than two-thirds of the bank's revenue. The 50-year-old Australian is now responsible for everything from German credit cards to the New York bond trading desk. "How Mr. Throsby fares will help determine whether Barclays can thrive as one of the U.K.'s last diversified universal banks," the Journal comments.
Worth the fight?: The American Bankers Association is launching an advertising campaign to support ditching the Durbin Amendment, which limits how much banks can charge retailers on debit card transactions. But the banks "have a fight on their hands over Durbin, not least because it pits them against the all-powerful retail lobby," the FT reports. "Some banking lobbyists, who are hopeful that parts of Dodd-Frank could be relaxed, acknowledge privately that their chances of ending the restrictions on card fees are slim." Regional bank CEOs also made a plea to Congress.
New York Times
Not good enough: Contrary to what President Trump thinks, banks are lending, writes columnist Gretchen Morgenson – though she acknowledges that they might be lending more were it not for the regulatory burdens created by Dodd-Frank. Recent results at big banks show that lending volume is rising, not falling, she writes.
Turning a blind eye?: Wayne State University Law Professor Peter J. Henning looks at the possible effects of the Trump administration's "shift away from enforcement" by the financial regulatory agencies, mainly the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "It remains to be seen whether this is a matter of curbing over-regulation or a push to make it easier for companies to test the edges of the law to generate more profits," Henning writes in the White Collar Watch column. "There is always an ebb and flow to the optimal amount of scrutiny, but scaling back enforcement could mean that violations will go undetected until they grow into significant problems."
Watching Big Brother: The Federal Trade Commission is looking into the growing use of technology that enables auto lenders to track the location of borrowers' vehicles in case they need to repossess them. Lenders say these systems, which also enable them to remotely disable the car's ignition after a borrower misses a payment, allow them to extend loans to more low-income people. But federal regulators are investigating whether the devices violate borrowers' privacy rights.
Bloomberg View: Today in Legacy Systems Gone Awry, "Dole Food Had Too Many Shares." This case of bungled bookkeeping is "enough to drive even a sensible vice chancellor to talk about blockchains," quips columnist Matt Levine. More on the underlying problem (and debatable solution) in this American Banker story from last year.
Economics blogger Scott Sumner muses: "I wonder if Dodd/Frank is now making small town banking a frustrating profession in the way that earlier regs made medicine and teaching increasing frustrating professions." Ya think? (Sumner is commenting on a widely discussed post by polymath blogger Scott Alexander about rapidly rising costs in various industries, well worth reading in its own right.)
"You cannot make the case that bank loans have not grown as a result of Dodd-Frank. The only case you can make is that Dodd-Frank has been a depressant on bank loans because of the increase in capital ratios and the need to put more money into liquidity." – Bank analyst Richard Bove of Rafferty Capital Markets