Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Coming Down the Pike: Citigroup's move to increase its third-quarter legal provisions by an additional $600 million suggests the bank may soon reach a settlement over charges that it manipulated foreign-exchange rates, the papers report. The adjustment, made in response to "very recent communications with certain regulatory agencies" according to the bank's regulatory filing, lowered Citigroup's quarterly earnings by nearly 18%, to $2.84 billion. The Wall Street Journal's anonymice say Citi and other big banks may be prepping for a joint settlement with American and European regulators over the foreign-exchange probe. Such an arrangement appeals to banks because they'd get to air all their dirty laundry in one go, but the anonymice say that some regulatory agencies including the Department of Justice may need more time than others. Meanwhile, the Financial Times' anonymous sources say discussions with the United Kingdom's Financial Conduct Authority helped lead to the change. The New York Times focuses on what the adjustment can tell us about the indefinite nature of bank results. "In this environment of heightened scrutiny, it is particularly difficult for investors to assess the true health of large and complex banks," the paper reports.
Wall Street Journal
Bank of America gave chief executive Brian Moynihan too much power when it appointed him to the additional role of chairman in early October, according to some of the company's biggest investors. The change "essentially unraveled a binding 2009 shareholder resolution to separate the positions" of chairman and CEO, according to the paper. Now three major shareholders pension systems including the California Public Employees' Retirement System, the California State Teachers' Retirement System and the adviser to New York City's five pension funds may put forward a proposal to rescind the additional title.
"Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President John Williams said on Friday that central banks' largely successful pursuit of low inflation could mean they more frequently run into periods where monetary policy hits levels of interest rates that can't be cut further," the paper reports. It's unclear from the article exactly what stance Williams takes on the tradeoff.
Credit-card giants MasterCard and Visa are two big winners in the continuing shift to a less cash-based economy, according to the paper. Both companies posted third-quarter results above analysts' expectations, "even as consumer-spending growth remains sluggish in parts of the world."
Financial institutions should team up to develop programs aimed at improving ethical standards across the industry, according to Richard Lambert, the soon-to-be former chair of the U.K.'s Banking Standards Review Council. Leaders at individual companies have a limited ability to bring about industry-wide change, he writes, and "there is only so much that regulation can do to encourage a greater emphasis on integrity and ethics in the marketplace."
Standard Chartered may be back in the doghouse with U.S. regulators. Authorities are investigating whether the U.K. bank covered up sanctions violations as it negotiated the terms of a settlement over related charges two years ago. "At risk is StanChart's dollar clearing license, and that is a very big deal," an analyst tells the FT.
New York Times
Digital currency trade group The Bitcoin Foundation has a new top banana. Executive director Jon Matonis is stepping down Friday and handing the reins to Patrick Murck, the group's general counsel. The group has yet to name Murck's replacement.
ProPublica: Former Treasury secretary Tim Geithner's private papers show a man more "candidly critical of the [Obama] administration's policies and of his own shortcomings" than his memoir suggests, according to a ProPublica report. In the papers, which were not intended for publication, Geithner criticizes the $25 billion National Mortgage Settlement for failing to do enough to help struggling homeowners and acknowledges that enforcement actions against banks that helped bring about the financial crisis were insufficient. He also owns up to sounding "kind of whiney." The documents were produced over the course of the ongoing AIG trial and have been reviewed by ProPublica.