Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Bitcoin boost: While the Dow Jones Industrial Average struggles to reach the 20,000 mark, a different financial milestone was hit on New Year's Day. On Sunday bitcoin broke through the $1,000 mark for the first time, and kept climbing to $1,022 on Tuesday. The digital currency gained about 123% in value in 2016, due to global uncertainty and inflation fears. "The currency had faded from the public eye through early 2016 as prices stalled and traders battled about the structure of the approximately eight-year old market," the Wall Street Journal reports. "Now, with trading volumes rising sharply and some countries such as India making large cash payments more difficult, higher demand has pushed the bitcoin price up." Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post
Fined: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ordered TransUnion and Equifax to pay more than $23.2 million in fines and restitution for deceiving customers about the usefulness of credit scores and the cost of obtaining them. The agency said the two credit bureaus "lured consumers into enrolling in credit services advertised as free or costing only $1, but which could cost more than $200 a year," the New York Times reported. The CFPB also found that TransUnion and Equifax "falsely represented" in their advertising that their scores were the same as those used by lenders. In addition to the monetary penalties, TransUnion and Equifax agreed to modify their marketing practices, such as making it easier for consumers to cancel services they don't want. Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, American Banker
Wall Street Journal
Targeted: Liberal groups and some Democrat senators are gearing up to torpedo Steven Mnuchin's nomination as President-elect Donald Trump's Treasury secretary, the paper says. "The senators and groups are painting Mr. Mnuchin as an executive who oversaw thousands of foreclosures during the financial crisis while at the helm of OneWest Bank," the Journal reports.
Meanwhile, Wall Street lawyer Jay Clayton, whose clients have included Goldman Sachs and Barclays, has emerged as Trump's pick to the head the Securities and Exchange Commission. His nomination may be announced as soon as Wednesday.
Some may lose...: While it's generally believed that higher interest rates will boost profitability at U.S. banks, especially the biggest ones, it's apparently not true about all of them. "For a smaller group of lenders, higher rates are expected to spell lower profits," the FT reports. The largest of those is New York Community Bank, "which estimated in the small print of its most recent quarterly filing that a 1% rate rise would cause its net interest income to drop 3.9%."
"NYCB has a different business model," the paper explains. "It focuses on commercial real estate loans with terms fixed for several years, giving it less scope to increase interest charges. At the same time, it is more reliant on wholesale funding than peers, potentially making it more exposed to paying higher interest on its debt."
New York Times
Redemption?: Anshu Jain, the former co-CEO of Deutsche Bank, will have a chance to redeem himself and his tarnished reputation at his new job as president of privately held Cantor Fitzgerald. "The lack of public scrutiny will be welcome to Mr. Jain, who became used to quarterly drubbings from analysts, politicians and the media as Deutsche Bank underperformed," Dominic Elliott writes in the Times' Breakingviews column. "Less limelight could help Cantor's push into new areas." And were Jain to help Cantor "seek a public listing or transformative acquisition, it would turbocharge his rehabilitation."
Better hurry: JPMorgan Chase is cutting the 100,000-point bonus on its much ballyhooed Chase Sapphire Reserve by half. People who apply for the card online have until January 12 to get the full bonus, although those who apply at a bank branch have until March 12. It doesn't appear that the $450 annual fee will be reduced accordingly, however.
"Credit scores are central to a consumer's financial life, and people deserve honest and accurate information about them." — CFPB Director Richard Cordray