Receiving Wide Coverage...
Ben's Book Tour: Ben Bernanke's memoir detailing his role in America's response to the financial crisis, titled "The Courage to Act," is set to be released Monday. While reviews have yet to come out, the book received some criticism for its debatably hyperbolic title when it was announced in April.
Ahead of the book's launch, Bernanke has revved up his analysis and criticism of the U.S. economy and the banking industry.
In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Ben Bernanke also argued that the Federal Reserve has largely done a good job in helping to repair the post-recession economy, particularly in comparison with the relatively weaker response to the financial crisis seen in Europe. He said that the Fed's role in the recovery has nearly drawn to a close, saying that it's up to policy makers and producers to boost productivity in response to growing demand.
And during a sit-down the USA Today, Bernanke said he wishes more bank executives had faced jail time over their roles in the financial crisis. He said he would have preferred an individual-based approach to indictments over the actions that led to the recession, rather than targeting the banks and other institutions themselves.
"While you want to do everything you can to fix corporations that have bad cultures and encourage bad behavior — and the Fed was very much engaged in doing that — obviously illegal acts ultimately are done by individuals, not by legal fictions," Bernanke told USA Today.
Wall Street Journal
Out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees have hit a record average cost of $4.52, the paper reported based on a survey from Bankrate. These fees can go much higher in certain metropolitan areas like Atlanta and New York City, with these costs topping $5 and reaching as high as $8 per transaction. One factor driving the growth in these fees, which has reached 21% over the past five years, is that fewer people are using ATMs these days in favor of free cash withdrawal methods from banks and retailers.
While those working at community banks are prone to blaming all their problems on Dodd-Frank, the paper found that these institutions haven't necessarily been put out too much by the regulation. Community banks have retained their market share post-recession, the paper reported. Compliance costs are a concern – and consumers are feeling the brunt of them – but the articles finds that low interest rates may be a bigger source of concern than the law. Still not convinced? Check out American Banker's take on this subject.
In the wake of Friday's disappointing jobs report, bank stocks took a bit of a tumble. This latest vulnerability demonstrates how banks have become surrogates for concerns related to the economy, the paper noted. Banks have come to position their future success on a rise in interest rates, but as that increase is delayed investors are becoming flighty. This leaves banks with a hard choice in how to improve their appeal to investors if no rates hike materializes.
As the U.S. banking industry still grapples with the issues that caused the Great Recession, across the pond the U.K. is bringing to a close its own major banking scandal. The British banking brouhaha involved payment protection insurance, a financial product that was designed to repay a loan in the event a borrower could not. The U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority proposed a deadline of April 2018 for complaints regarding the insurance product, which was sold to many without their expressed knowledge and proved useless in many cases of financial duress. If approved, consumers in the U.K. could see the response to the issue fast-tracked, though some banks have already begun to act on complaints.
In London, the first brokers standing trial over allegations relating to the manipulation of the Libor tied to the Japanese yen will go to court this week. The brokers reportedly conspired with Tom Hayes at UBS and his associates to fix the Libor using fabricated or misleading rates, the paper reported. The trial will focus on the role brokers played in the racket, as opposed to banks' involvement.
New York Times
Objections regarding the breakneck pace of a career on Wall Street endure in the wake of the deaths of young employees of banks and other financial institutions. Despite losing some top talent to Silicon Valley, big banks continue to present their youngest workers with grueling schedules, but now some companies seem to be starting to take action. Goldman Sachs has implemented limits on how long workers can be in the office, and Jamie Dimon has urged up-and-comers to take care of their health. Still, the families of the young bankers continue to grieve their loss.
LA Times: Federal authorities raided the offices of digital currency Gemcoin following accusations that the firm conned Chinese and American investors out of $32 million via a pyramid scheme. The SEC has also frozen Gemcoin's bank accounts and those of the company's founder Steve Chen and the firm's backer USFIA. Promoted as a stronger digital currency than Bitcoin, USFIA said investors could not lose money on Gemcoin even as the product showed no revenue.
USA Today: Following last week's card liability shift, consumers need to watch out for scammers looking to profit off the switch to chip cards, Bentley University professor and lawyer Steve Weisman wrote for the paper. He said that some con artists have posed as credit card companies seeking customer information to issue a new chip card. The safest way to avoid becoming a victim of such a scheme is not to respond to such requests and call the toll-free number on the back of your credit card to verify whether the inquiry was real or fake.