Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Goodnight, Irene: Evacuation and contingency plans ahead of Hurricane Irene were the topic of a DealBook item Friday. Luckily, the storm did not cause as much damage as expected and the downtown area is "open for business" today. The headquarters of Goldman Sachs headquarters and the World Financial Center office of American Express are located in the low-lying areas on Manhattan that were evacuated ahead of Hurricane Irene. Deutsche Bank was just outside the first evacuation zone, DealBook noted. The AmEx building will be closed today, with employees working from home, according to Bloomberg. Stock, bond and commodities markets are open, all this despite some interruptions in MTA service and outages on LIRR and Metro-North service. Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Bloomberg News
Not So Fast ...: Post columnist Steven Pearlstein says the Fed should just say no to two deals: Capital One's for ING and PNC's for the U.S. operations of the Royal Bank of Canada. After all the debate about breaking up big banks, Pearlstein is concerned the industry is swinging back towards too much consolidation. And what troubles him specifically about the Capital One deal is "even more of the nation's bank deposits will be channeled to small businesses through corporate credit cards rather than through loans made by flesh-and-blood bankers." Those who feel as Pearlstein does may get a shot to make their case: As a result of complaints about the deal, the Fed extended the public comment period and set three meetings to review Capital One's ING offer.
Wall Street Journal
UBS said it may in the next few days charge a "temporary excess balance fee" on Swiss franc deposits in an effort to limit the amount of cash other banks keep in Swiss francs. The currency has soared against the dollar and the euro recently.
For only the second time in 18 years Royal Bank of Canada posted a quarterly loss, mostly as a result of a $1.68 billion charge from discontinued U.S. operations.
ABN Amro plans to slash 2,350 jobs by 2014 in an effort to push its cost-income ratio under 60%. It's currently at 68%.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke held out hope the central bank could add stimulus to the economy, but did not say how or when, during his keynote speech Friday at the Kansas City Fed’s annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo., which draws central bankers from across the globe. But the mood of the conference was gloomy, as central bankers see economies continuing to reel and their “policy apparatus is ill-equipped to help.”
Alan Krueger is expected to be named chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers at press conference Monday. Krueger spent two years as assistant Treasury secretary for economic policy, where he played a key role in crafting the stimulus and supporting the Build America Bonds program.
New York Times
If the Fed's $1.2 trillion bailout for large banks was intended to help American consumers, as former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson told the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission back in May 2010, then it failed, writes columnist Gretchen Morgenson. Main Street America is ravaged by high unemployment, foreclosures and devastated retirement accounts. Among the failures: a Belgian bank with just one New York office received billions of dollars from the Fed's bailout program.
Banks have gone through hard times before, but this downturn is different, bankers say. Loan growth is nowhere to be found, consumers are spurning debt and businesses are not financing plans for expansion. Profits have rebounded, but it's something of a mirage. Banks took the capital they had been using to cover losses and shifted it to the bottom line. That masked a 4.4% drop in revenue. Trepp, a research firm, estimates revenue could fall another 4% to 5% this year.
Saturday's issue carried a story about an obscure Islamic sect showing up as the owner on the deeds of dozens of Chicago properties, much to the surprise of the people who bought the properties. And it's not just Chicago: "The same pattern of mysterious deeds has surfaced recently in North Carolina, California and Virginia, where people professing to be members of the temple have claimed dozens of foreclosed homes. In numerous cases, they have moved in."
A Spanish-language television program last week featured a JPMorgan Chase-sponsored website that included original content related to the story line of the TV program. It's an expansion of the old concept of product placement. "You don't normally think about financial advertisers getting involved in story lines," a television executive said.
Finland's demand for collateral from Greece in exchange for aid is threatening to kill the deal to expand the European Union's bailout fund. International Monetary Fund president Christine Lagarde said there are "serious flaws in the architecture of the euro zone."