Breaking News This Morning
Case dismissed: The U.S. Justice Department has dismissed the deferred criminal charges against HSBC that have been hanging over the bank since it was fined for money laundering and other issues five years ago. "The expiration of the five-year deferred prosecution agreement … is a win for the bank and Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver, who had sought to have the case cleared before he retires in February," the Wall Street Journal said. Wall Street Journal, Financial Times
Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Bank bashing, big time: President Trump, in a highly unusual move — even for him — injected himself into how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should deal with Wells Fargo, tweeting that the bank hasn't heard the last of it from the agency. "Fines and penalties against Wells Fargo Bank for their bad acts against their customers and others will not be dropped, as has incorrectly been reported, but will be pursued and, if anything, substantially increased. I will cut Regs but make penalties severe when caught cheating!" the president tweeted.
"As a matter of principle, acting director [Mick] Mulvaney shares the president's firm commitment to punishing bad actors and protecting American consumers," John Czwartacki, a CFPB spokesman, added. The agency has already fined the bank $100 million for its phony accounts scandal but is weighing another penalty regarding mortgage issues at the bank. Wall Street Journal, New York Times, American Banker
"Trump's tweet likely reflects the big bank, which declined to comment, will remain a political punching bag for some time," the Washington Post commented.
Separately, the Wall Street Journal's editors take another swipe at CFPB acting director-wannabe Leandra English, whom it calls the "George Costanza of federal bureaucrats."
"She's burrowing in, still claiming to be the acting director, and still issuing memos to staff that everyone ignores," it said. "Mr. Mulvaney is exercising great patience in not sacking her, no doubt to avoid giving her any evidence to assist her court claims. But given her great dedication to the job and the bureau, perhaps Mr. Mulvaney could give her the Penske File."
Start your engines: Bitcoin futures trading began Sunday at exchange run by Cboe Global Markets, with the price immediately rising in heavy activity. "The launch of the bitcoin futures represents a milestone for the digital currency," the Journal said. Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, Washington Post
Several central bankers commented on bitcoin, and were mostly negative.
Separately, the U.K. plans to bring virtual currency exchanges and wallet providers under anti-money-laundering regulations, which "could force more transparency on bitcoin users," the Financial Times reported.
Wall Street Journal
Rewards in jeopardy?: JPMorgan Chase has hired credit card executive Matthew Massaua away from Barclays to manage its popular Sapphire rewards cards, including the Sapphire Reserve card. The move comes "at a time when doubts have surfaced within the bank about its financial prospects," the Journal reports. "Though consumer demand for Sapphire Reserve was high when the bank introduced the card last year, JPMorgan executives have raised concerns that it won't make money for the bank, due in part to the card's generous rewards."
Tax woes: The Institute of International Bankers, which represents the American units of foreign banks, says the banks could be unfairly hit by the tax reform bill being hammered out in Congress. The banks argue they will be penalized for making interest payments within their corporate groups and will have to reduce lending or restructure their U.S. operations if the bill isn't amended.
Similarly, Wall Street executives in the U.S. are lobbying against another provision in the measure that would limit or reduce the ability of taxpayers in high-tax states to deduct state and local income taxes from their federal tax returns, "arguing they could damage New York's financial industry by driving out bankers and fund managers."
ATM fee dispute: The U.K.'s two biggest independent ATM operators say they will have to close thousands of machines or start charging consumers to withdraw money if banks cut the fees paid by card issuers.
New York Times
Pop star?: The Times profiles outgoing Federal Reserve Chair — "don't call her chairwoman" — Janet Yellen, the first woman to hold the position. Yellen "didn't ask to become a feminist icon, and she almost never talks about gender in the abstract or her historic role as the agency's chairman. And yet, during a tenure characterized by a plummeting unemployment rate and consistently low inflation, Ms. Yellen became a pop culture phenomenon." Yellen will preside over the Fed's last monetary policy meeting this year on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"The best move politically is always to bash the biggest bank." — Jaret Seiberg, an analyst for Cowen Washington Research Group, responding to President Trump's tweet about Wells Fargo.