Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Confirmed: As expected, the Senate confirmed former federal prosecutor turned corporate defender Mary Jo White as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday. She's set to start at the SEC any day now, but already has her hands full. On the SEC's (and as such White's) to-do list, per Dealbook: "complete new rules for Wall Street," "take aim at financial fraud," "confront the growing world of high-frequency trading … and money market funds." The Post reports, before she was confirmed White told Senator Al Franken "she would consider reforming the credit rating agency industry." She'll also need to address growing hostility over the SEC's delays in "establishing the rules to implement new online crowdfunding portals" authorized as part of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act last April.
Jack Lew Goes to Europe: As mentioned in yesterday's Scan, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is in Europe, trying to convince its finance ministers "to pursue a little more growth and a little less austerity." The Times recaps his first day of discussions, which included a press conference with Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, and a meeting with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi. The article also notes that, throughout the day, "there was little indication that the recession-plagued European Union was moving away from the austerity path it has pursued" since the financial crisis. Lew will meet with German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble on Tuesday. Meanwhile, in its recap of the ongoing discussions, the Post points out Lew's role as Treasury secretary "is shaping up to be surprisingly focused on managing economic relations with the rest of the world." It's surprising in that, prior to his confirmation, Lew was considered a budget expert with a background "in domestic policy."
Rogue Auditor: Accounting firm KPMG has fired a senior partner in its Los Angeles office, after discovering he had provided confidential information to an unnamed person who used the edge in insider trades. KPMG resigned as the auditor for two companies as a result of the employee's "rogue" actions. Few other details were provided. KPMG has yet to name the partner, the alleged insider trader or the companies it will stop doing business with. It also didn't say whether an SEC investigation was currently underway. The Times calls the occurrence "another black eye for KPMG," while the FT says the aftermath "could damage KPMG's reputation." Both articles invoke the name Arthur Andersen, which was ruined by its business relationship with Enron.
Wall Street Journal
The European Union has launched an antitrust probe of MasterCard, "following concerns that some of the credit-card company's interbank fees are anticompetitive."
Citigroup's streamlining efforts continue. The paper reports the bank plans to eliminate "two senior positions in its Institutional Clients Group" as part of CEO's Michael Corbat's ongoing attempt "to simplify Citigroup's managerial and operational structure." It doesn't look like any executives or their employees will lose their jobs as a result of this decision. One position, head of securities and banking, was vacated when James Forese was promoted to chief executive of the unit earlier this year. The other position, head of transaction services, is held by Francesco Vanni d'Archirafi, who is expected to remain with the bank in a new, yet-to-be-disclosed role.
Rising car prices and competition among lenders are pushing consumers toward longer — as in 75- to 97-month — car loans. Banks see the loans "as a way to attract buyers." Car dealers like that the loans allow consumers to buy pricier cars, but also worry the length of the loans will keep consumers from ultimately replacing their vehicles.
New York Times
AIG is asking a federal judge to bar former CEO Maurice Greenberg from suing the U.S. government over bailout terms on its behalf. Per AIG in its filing: "AIG's directors had every right to decide … that suing the government for its rescue of AIG is not the right thing for AIG to do, and that AIG's interests are better served by focusing on the future and not joining litigation concerning the past. Under well settled Delaware law, Starr [Greenberg's investment company] cannot usurp the right of AIG's board to make this business judgment."
Banks are healthy, reports Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, following the central bank's latest round of stress tests.