Wall Street Journal
Equity analysts and economists have had a hard time predicting where the price of oil is heading. JPMorgan Chase's analysts have cut price forecasts twice in two months, with the latest prediction for Brent an average $31.50 per barrel in 2016. Previous estimates from JPMorgan were $51.50 back on Dec. 18, and $54.75 in October. Analysts from Credit Suisse Group and Citigroup have also repeatedly lowered their estimates to keep up with the rapidly falling price of oil.
Blackstone Group is binging on a nationwide inventory clearance sale. After years of selling off assets by private equity firms, Blackstone reversed the trend in 2015. It invested $32 billion last year, a 21% rise from 2014. One of its bargain-bid purchases was NCR, as the ATM's maker's shares were down 30% from its 2013 high when Blackstone acquired a 17% stake in it in November. Blackstone bought a great deal of real estate in 2015, including its leading role in the $7.8 billion buy of the Stuyvesant Village/Peter Cooper housing complex in Manhattan. Blackstone eschewed the energy sector.
New York Times
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., slammed federal laws that allow thousands of Americans to "[rot] in prison" for nonviolent drug convictions, while banks that pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to rigging billions of dollars worth of foreign currencies get off scot-free; moreover, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon was given a 35% raise. "Enforcement isn't about big government or small government. It's about whether government works and who it works for," Warren wrote in the op-ed.
Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Wells Fargo, which can't seem to stop quarreling with NBA franchises, including the Charlotte Hornets and the Philadelphia 76ers, has now picked a fight with the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL. And this time, it also involves a federal judge. The Vikings are building a new stadium in downtown Minneapolis and sold the naming rights to the facility to hometown bank U.S. Bancorp. Wells Fargo, however, had negotiated a deal to allow it display signs on the rooftop of two nearby 17-story towers.
That agreement had called for Wells Fargo to make the signs flush with the rooftop. Wells Fargo, however, raised the signs 18 inches. The Vikings say Wells Fargo thus violated their agreement. It's "ambush advertising" by Wells Fargo, because they're butting in on the advertising implicit in the name of U.S. Bank Stadium. In effect, Wells Fargo photobombed U.S. Bank Stadium with the signs.
The judge ruled against the Vikings, saying Wells Fargo did not have to cover up its signs. But the judge indicated the Vikings have a good chance to ultimately win its legal argument that Wells Fargo must remove the signs, or at least lower them to become flush with the roof. For what it's worth, the twin towers atop which the Wells Fargo signs sit are eventually going to house about 5,000 Wells Fargo employees. The San Francisco bank has invested about $300 million in the mixed-use development project.
Fundera: The site looks at which finance mobile apps are best for small business owners. Capital One, American Express, Bank of America, Citigroup, Simple, Square, QuickBooks Gopayment, and PayPal all fare well in the comparison.
ABC News: Another member of bank management found himself involved in a potentially violent bank robbery. The manager of a PNC Financial Services Group branch in Zebulon, N.C., stopped an apparent armed robbery attempt this week. The manager saw a suspect approach the branch's front door and bang on it with a semiautomatic handgun. The manager rushed to the door to hold it closed to prevent the suspect from entering. Failing in his attempt to pull the door open, the suspect eventually ran off. Earlier this month, the president of Bank of Eufaula in Oklahoma was killed by a suspect during an armed robbery attempt.
Milwaukee Business News: JPMorgan plans to fire 135 workers who provide mortgage banking customer assistance in Milwaukee. It will close its Mortgage Banking Customer Assistance business group. "As the economy continues to improve, we are seeing far fewer homeowners struggling with their mortgages and the vast majority have already refinanced," a JPMorgan spokeswoman said.