Receiving Wide Coverage ...

Make your choice: The House of Representatives on Thursday is expected to pass the Financial Choice Act that would roll back much of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. But the measure is probably not the last word on the subject, but a starting point in the discussion. Wall Street Journal, New York Times here and here

Wall Street Journal

Moving forward: As it tries to put its phony accounts scandal in the rearview mirror, Wells Fargo is facing a new challenge: growing again. But that task will be complicated by low interest rates and a sluggish economy.

Here they come: A new report from Genworth Mortgage Insurance says about three million potential first-time home buyers have been shut out of the market over the past 10 years due to overly strict underwriting standards and shortages of affordable housing. In total, the number of first-time home buyers has averaged 1.5 million a year since the housing market crash, compared to the historical average of 1.8 million.

But that picture is starting to change, the study says, thanks to looser lending standards and lower down payment requirements. So far this year, first-time buyers make up about 38% of the market, compared to the historical average of 35%, according to Genworth. Last year, two million first-timers bought homes, or 37% of the market. "As we're seeing millennials age into homeownership, there's a huge tailwind coming," said Nela Richardson, chief economist at Redfin.

Different takes: Is there really a retirement crisis? It depends on who you ask. Alicia Munnell, director of Boston College's Center for Retirement Research, and Andrew Biggs, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, "have read the same literature and looked at the same data" but have come to very different conclusions on the subject. The Journal interviews these friends and past collaborators for their takes on the issue.

New CIO: Bank of New York Mellon has appointed Bridget E. Engle, the chief information officer at Bank of America's global banking and markets businesses, as its new senior executive vice president and CIO. She will replace Suresh Kumar, who is leaving the company after about five years at the end of July "to pursue other opportunities."

Financial Times

Ramping up: Amazon is planning to expand the small-business lending program it launched six years ago. Amazon Lending, which has originated $3 billion since then, $1 billion of it last year, is looking to expand in the U.S., U.K. and Japan, the FT reports. The company offers "select sellers" instant loans for up to 12 months at rates ranging from about 6% to 17%.

"Amazon's push into lending shows how the landscape of banking has been radically reshaped since the crisis and how traditional banks are facing tough new competition," the paper said.

Amazon signage.
Bloomberg News

Top this: Guess which online bank has the best rates? None other than Goldman Sachs Bank USA, which on Tuesday raised the rate on its Online Savings Account to 1.2% from 1.05%. And you only need $1 to qualify for it. The move shows that "the mighty investment bank's foray into retail banking is becoming more serious," the FT observes.

Insider charges: The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has charged a former UBS compliance officer with insider trading. Fabiana Abdel-Malek was charged with five counts of passing information to Walid Choucair, a London resident, in 2013 and 2014. Choucair is accused of trading on the information he received from Abdel-Malek.

New claims: HSBC, which with several other banks was fined $4.3 billion three years ago for trying to rig the foreign exchange market, is facing new allegations that it manipulated forex markets more than a decade ago. ECU Group, a British currency investment firm, has filed a complaint with London's commercial court demanding that the bank turn over records relating to three large forex orders it made back in 2006.

Quotable

"Holy cow, this was like, easy money. They already know what I'm selling, they have a history and a projection of sales, and they have the asset in their warehouses. Why wouldn't they give me a loan?" — An Amazon Lending customer.

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