Editor's note: Morning Scan will not publish on Monday, Sept. 5 in observance of Labor Day. We'll be back on Tuesday, Sept. 6.
Wall Street Journal
Stressed out: Bank trade groups are mulling whether to sue the Federal Reserve to challenge the methodology it uses to perform its annual stress tests on financial institutions. Some banks believe the Fed is violating the Administrative Procedure Act by not allowing public input into the test, including from the banks themselves. The tests are designed solely by the Fed, which doesn't disclose details about the models it uses so banks won't be able to game the results.
"Even if banks ultimately decide against action, serious contemplation of such a challenge is somewhat extraordinary," the Journal said. "It shows growing frustration among big financial firms with the tests, which have become even more of a burden with super low interest rates weighing on profits."
Addressing student loans: Rohit Chopra, a protégé of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and one of the first employees of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has joined Hillary Clinton's transition team. Chopra, a former assistant director and student-loan ombudsman at the CFPB and currently a special adviser at the Department of Education, has been a frequent critic of student loan lenders. His appointment signals Clinton's "intention to take a tough stance to address the ballooning student-debt problem if she is elected president," according to the paper
Approved: JPMorgan Chase was granted a license to operate a wholly owned asset-management firm in China. The bank is one of only a handful of international investment firms to win approval to operate a stand-alone investment company in China, joining Bridgewater Associates and Fidelity Investments. But more could soon follow. The U.S. Treasury Department said a few months ago that China has agreed to make good on promises that foreign-owned firms will be permitted to engage in money management without having to partner with a Chinese company.
Happy 40th: Vanguard, the king of index funds, took in another $25 billion of net new investment money in August to boost its year-to-date total to $198 billion, putting it on track to easily beat last year's record inflow of $236 billion. The company, which launched its first index fund, tracking the S&P 500, exactly 40 years ago, is now the world's second-largest investment manager, with $3.8 trillion of assets under management. "The poor performance of many actively managed mutual funds, coupled with their expense, has accelerated the trend towards passive investment strategies that merely aim to cheaply mimic the performance of markets rather than beat them," the paper said.
New York Times
Brown shoes? With that suit?: They say clothes make the man (or woman). Apparently that's still true, even in this age of casual office attire. At least it is in the British banking business, where wearing the wrong color shoes can cost you a job. "An ill-fitting suit, the wrong haircut or a lower-class accent can quickly eliminate a potential hire from corporate finance roles," according to a study. For example, "wearing brown shoes with a business suit was generally considered unacceptable among British investment bankers, but a similar judgment did not apply to bankers from Continental Europe, where brown shoes were more commonplace." However, some British corporate finance executives can "get away" with wearing brown shoes if they are "sufficiently senior," the report said.
Where's the money?: Conservative columnist George Will says the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act is one of the few Congressional bills that "precisely names the ailment for which it is the remedy." Will is critical of how the Justice Department is spending the billions of dollars it has received in settlement agreements negotiated with banks for their alleged misdeeds selling securities backed by subprime mortgages. "Justice allows banks to meet some of their settlement obligations by directing 'donations' to various nongovernmental advocacy organizations that serve Democratic constituencies and objectives — organizations that were neither parties to the case nor victims of the banks' behaviors," Will writes. Direction of the money, he says, is the purview of Congress.