Wall Street Journal
Despite shareholders' complaints about its sluggish stock price and earnings growth, Bank of America's board appears to be fully supportive of Chairman and Chief Executive Brian Moynihan. As part of an update on Moynihan's tenure, the Journal interviews directors, shareholders, former colleagues and Moynihan himself about his job performance. Jack O. Bovender Jr., the former CEO of hospital chain HCA and a B of A director, applauds Moynihan's personality. "You don't have to get up and tell the world how great you are and what a wonderful thing you're doing for the bank. A sense of humility will get you a long way," Bovender said. The article also includes a passage about the relationship between Moynihan and former CEO Kenneth Lewis. In 2008, Lewis appointed John Thain, then chief of Merrill Lynch, as head of corporate and investment banking, passing over Moynihan. Lewis attempted to force Moynihan to move to Delaware to lead the credit-card business, but Moynihan refused. So, Lewis drafted a news release announcing Moynihan's resignation, but eventually relented.
The Justice Department will void a previous agreement it had with UBS to settle charges of rigging foreign-currency rates, and instead will fine the bank $200 million and force it to plead guilty to manipulating the London interbank offered rate. UBS officials are "confounded" because they believe they were promised immunity by the DOJ for early cooperation. Still, UBS will avoid having to plead guilty to fraud and antitrust charges related to rigging foreign currency rates. Barclays, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Royal Bank of Scotland are all expected to plead guilty to those charges. JPMorgan said Thursday it will need to plead guilty to antitrust charges.
In a brief Q&A, Deutsche Bank Chairman Paul Achleitner discusses the bank's new strategic plan, industry regulations and how crowdfunding sites and technology disruptors threaten banks.
New York Times
Many in the Bitcoin community believe the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, the name used by the person thought to have created Bitcoin, is an American named Nick Szabo. Although Szabo has denied that he is Nakamoto, he does acknowledge he is among a small group of people that developed the technological platform on which Bitcoin is based. Szabo in 2014 joined the Silicon Valley firm Vaurum, now known as Mirror, which works on Bitcoin-related projects. Szabo later left Mirror because of his desire for privacy. The Times article delves further into Szabo's past, as well as early efforts by Szabo and others to develop virtual currencies.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch has started a group that helps private companies raise money without holding an IPO. JPMorgan Chase earlier this week announced it had made a hire for a similar effort.
New Orleans Times-Picayune: Community banks are dying a slow death, with the number of small banks declining since 1993, according to a University of New Orleans study. Average returns at large banks rose 10% over the same period. Regulations have also created an environment where it's very difficult to open new community banks, the study said. "We've set up the economy so that there are no new small banks," said Guy Williams, CEO of Gulf Coast Bank & Trust, which paid for the UNO study. Williams and others recently presented the study to Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and urged him to do something to stop the decline of community banks.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: First Federal Bank of Wisconsin is building a new branch in a location explicitly chosen to be high profile. The site, located near a major intersection in Brookfield, Wis., was chosen because it "will generate a huge presence for us, and that's kind of what we're looking for. If we are going to move in and put a branch up, especially in today's world, you really need to put it in an area where it can be visible," said CEO Gary Riley. First Federal is constructing an 11,000 square-foot building; the bank will use 4,000 square feet of it, and lease out the rest for offices.
Pacific Business News: Bank of Hawaii and First Hawaiian Bank have closed their branches in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands ahead of Typhoon Dolphin, which was projected to hit the islands today. The banks have a total of six branches in Guam and four in the Northern Mariana Islands.
The Hill: Fred Hochberg, chairman of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, said his peers at similar banks in other countries are perplexed that Congress would want to kill off the Ex-Im Bank. Such a move would put the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage to China and other global competitors, Hochberg told the paper.