Wall Street Journal

Baby boomers are changing the idea that the older you get, the less debt you carry. The average 65-year-old borrower has 47% more mortgage debt now than in 2003. They also have 29% more auto debt. Both figures, adjusted for inflation, were compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The Fed's report noted older borrowers do tend to have more ability to repay debt than younger people "with historically weak repayment." But greater borrowing by the older age group could become "alarming" if they are entering their retirement age with more debt than they can handle, said Alicia Munnell, a researcher at Boston College's Center for Retirement Research. "If your only monthly income is from Social Security, you really want to get monthly expenditures down and have as little debt as possible," she said.

IBM has developed its own blockchain technology. Big Blue plans to begin testing its development through a free, open-source project called Hyperledger. It will also introduce new services for software developers to build blockchain code for its mainframe computers and for devices that use radio-frequency identification tracking tags.

IBM will also establish "garages" in London, Singapore, New York and Tokyo to let its customers experiment with its blockchain technology. The London Stock Exchange and Japan Exchange Group, two IBM customers, are already using the blockchain code in their business. IBM plans to make its blockchain software available to its customers who lease its computer hardware.

Remittances are soaring. The amount of money sent to Latin American and Caribbean nations by U.S. migrant workers rose to $68.3 billion last year, up from $64.5 billion in 2008, the highest previous yearly total, according to Inter-American Dialogue.

The money is typically sent to family members back home and the figures have increased on a surge in Central American immigrants to the U.S. While job opportunities are one reason for the rise in immigration, an increase in drug-related violence in some Central American nations is also a contributing factor. Migrants also are making the decision to send money back home to invest in real estate and other amenities.

Migrants "are becoming a lot more strategic about how and when they send money, paying attention to exchange rates," said Wells Fargo's head of global remittance services, Daniel Ayala.

Starting today, commercial banks operating in Japan must pay a small fee when they add to money held at the Bank of Japan. The move comes after Japan said last month it would implement negative interest rates, the latest country to do so. Negative rates are expected to reduce big banks' profit.

U.S. Bancorp's chief information security officer, Jason Witty, praised the U.S. government's decision to upgrade its outdated information technology infrastructure. The government is spending $3.1 billion to retire, replace and modernize its systems. The legacy software does not provide needed security features, Witty said. Outdated IT has been a factor in some large government data breaches. Banks have already adopted automated platforms for sharing cyber security threat indicators with the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center. The Department of Homeland Security will also begin sharing indicators with banks.

New York Times

Bank stocks have taken a nosedive because of overblown fears of potential loan losses, said Charles Peabody of Portales Partners. The market's sell-off of stocks of large banks appears to be based on worries that banks won't be able to handle massive loan losses, Peabody said. "The losses aren't going to be such that they can't absorb them in the norm of their earnings streams," he said.

Another possible reason for the sell-off is many investors placed big bets last year that a rise in interest rates would fuel bank profits. Since that prediction has not come to pass, investors are unwinding those large bets, he said.

Richard X. Bove of Rafferty Capital Markets also thinks the sell-off is based on unfounded fears about banks' ability to withstand losses. Heightened regulatory requirements have made banks safer, he said. "Any number of statistics would validate the fact that banks today don't have the risks they had either in 1990 or 2008," Bove said.

Elsewhere ...

Charlotte Observer: Brian Moynihan isn't the only Bank of America executive to take home a big pay raise last year. B of A paid Moynihan $16 million last year, according to Bloomberg. That equates to a 23% raise. Regulatory filings show that B of A was generous to others besides Moynihan, at least when it came to handing out awards of restricted stock.

Dean Athanasia, president of preferred and small business banking and co-head of consumer banking, got $3.4 million in restricted stock awards, a 79% yearly increase. Thomas Montag, chief operating officer, was awarded $8.7 million, an 11.5% increase.

Cathy Bessant, chief operations and technology officer, got $3.4 million in additional restricted stock awards. (The Observer did not detail the percentage increase for every executive it named in its article.) Paul Donofrio, chief financial officer, was awarded $5.8 million. Geoffrey Greener, chief risk officer, got $5 million. And Terry Laughlin, head of global wealth and investment management, got $5.2 million.

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