Receiving Wide Coverage ...
JPM Shakeup, Day Two: The departure of Frank Bisignano — one of a dozen senior executives to leave JPMorgan in the last four years — "has heightened worries about the persistent executive turnover at the bank," reports the Times. Some "wonder if the many reshufflings at the top point to a larger problem within the bank." Echoing the Journal's story yesterday, the Times calls Bisignano's exit "a particularly difficult loss for the bank … because he was widely considered to be skilled at tackling thorny problems at a time when the bank has been faulted over weak oversight in places." There's also the question of who will succeed chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon whenever he eventually decides to step down; "although the bank's succession plans are not known, he has told people close to him that he is confident the bank will be in good hands when he does decide to leave." Well, that settles that. Looking ahead to the upcoming annual meeting, where shareholders will vote on a proposal to ask the board to split the chairman and CEO roles, the Times says that "if the vote goes against the company and the board decides to split the role, Mr. Dimon might resign rather than see his powers reduced." A "careful-what-you-wish-for" piece in the FT includes that same warning. Even if he stayed on as CEO, the article says, the board would have to recruit "a chairman with the temperament and acumen to stand up to a rambunctious CEO while ensuring he does not walk off. Good luck with that." The Journal's "Heard on the Street" column uses the promotion of one-time bond trader Matt Zames to sole chief operating officer (a role he previously shared with Bisignano) as an occasion to reflect on JPMorgan's reliance on investment banking for profits.
Santander CEO Quits: We're including this only because the Spanish bank has significant operations here in the U.S., though we couldn't find a mention of Sovereign Bank in any of the stories. Quite a drama, nonetheless. Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times
Fed Watch: Rep. Kevin Brady, chairman of the House joint economic committee, is taking up the mantle of chief Fed gadfly from the retired Ron Paul, though Brady is using a more open-minded tack than his fellow Texas Republican. According to the FT, Brady "wants Congress to appoint a bipartisan commission that could lead to a radical change in the mandate of the world's largest and most important central bank." This commission would look at everything from a return to the gold standard, on one end of the spectrum, to an expansion of the Fed's mandate to include a target for nominal GDP, on the other. (Brady himself has sought to end the dual mandate and have the Fed focus exclusively on taming inflation — rather than also trying to maximize employment — but he needs Democrats' support for this proposed commission.) This year marks the Fed's hundredth anniversary, and "when the house isn't on fire we want a discussion of what role the fire department should play," Brady says. Meanwhile, the Fed's open market committee convenes a two-day meeting today, and the central bank is unlikely to expand its asset-purchase program, despite persistently high unemployment, the Times reports. Among the reasons: "The benefits of additional asset purchases appear modest, at best. The consequences of buying more bonds are uncertain. And officials are frustrated that their monetary policy is being forced to play a role that most economists and Fed officials say could be more easily and effectively performed by fiscal policy."