Editor's Note: Morning Scan will not publish on Monday, May 27, in observance of the Memorial Day holiday.
Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Goldman's Reforms: The highlight of Goldman Sachs' "otherwise muted" shareholders meeting was news that the investment firm has implemented 39 initiatives designed to strengthen its business practices and reputation in the wake of the scandals following the financial crisis. These initiatives include "greater balance-sheet transparency" and "a more rigorous system for ensuring employees don't pursue deals unsuitable for their clients," the Journal reports. A choice quote for Goldman CEO and Chairman Lloyd Blankfein, courtesy of the FT: "We were determined not to wallow in the negativity of it all, but to harness the energy created by" the scandals of previous years.
SAC Update: Both the Journal and the Times are out with the names of the SAC Capital Advisors executives called to testify in front of a grand jury as part of a government's insider trading investigation: firm president Thomas Conheeney, compliance chief Steven Kessler, chief operating officer Solomon Kumin and head of trading Phillipp Villhauer. It's unclear if these execs will actually provide information to the grand jury or do as their boss Steve Cohen plans and utilize their fifth amendment privileges. Dealbook notes that the subpoenas indicate criminal charges won't be filed against these men or Cohen "as Justice Department guidelines discourage prosecutors from seeking testimony from individuals they are seeking to charge." The firm itself is a different story.
Wall Street Journal
The paper cites the Federal Reserve's move to delay a deal between M&T Bank and Hudson City Bancorp, due to concerns over the former's money-laundering program, as a reason why there aren't more mergers and acquisitions among mid-size banks within the industry. Midsize banks "aren't part of the 'too big to fail' debate, in which regulators have expressed concern that the largest banks could require government bailouts in the event of a new financial meltdown," the article notes. "But they face more scrutiny from regulators on all aspects of their operations."
Amanda Renteria, former Senate aide, is being considered as a successor to Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler after previous frontrunner, CFTC Commissioner Mark Wetjen, "locked horns" with Gensler over Dodd-Frank's derivatives rules. Gensler is widely expected to step down later this year. Per the article, Renteria is "an unlikely choice for an agency in the midst of a bruising fight over implementation" of Dodd-Frank. "I'd want to know if she's willing to spit in Wall Street's eye," one former colleague told the paper.
New York Times
"Bank Lobbyists Help in Drafting Financial Bills," Dealbook declares after reviewing emails that indicate a bill passing the House Financial Services Committee this month was "essentially Citi's." Per the article, Citi's lobbying campaign on the bill, which exempts certain trades from new regulation, "shows how, three years after Congress passed the most comprehensive overhaul of regulation since the Depression, Wall Street is finding Washington a friendlier place."
President Obama has tapped Senate aides Kara Stein and Michael Piwowar to succeed commissioners set to leave the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board criticized auditing firm Ernst & Young for not sufficiently following up with several firms who had fraud risks identified in their audits.
Here's some upbeat holiday weekend reading: Columnist Allan Sloan argues that what this country really needs is another financial crisis. The argument is that another crisis might stop political "blathering" and force lawmakers to do something. "Except for the Federal Reserve, which has consistently tried to help the economy, misguided though some of its actions may be, about the only real changes our government has made since the onset of the financial crisis were induced by fear," Sloan writes.