Breaking News This Morning ...

Earnings Galore: Citigroup, like its rival Bank of America, reported a huge increase in second-quarter profit, compared to a year earlier, thanks in large part to the lack of a costly legal settlement related to mortgages. Citi's net income rose to $4.85 billion from $181 million a year earlier. Meanwhile, BB&T's second-quarter net income increased to $454 million from $424 million a year earlier. However, merger-related charges and a loss from the sale of a business cut BB&T's earnings per share by 7 cents.

Receiving Wide Coverage ...

Masters to Santander: Blythe Masters' appointment as chairman of Santander Consumer USA Holdings was covered by the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Financial Times, with the NYT saying she "seems a curious choice" because while running the commodities business at JPMorgan Chase she came under scrutiny from regulators at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2013 for "statements she made about some problematic trading activity." Timothy Ryan, chairman of Santander Holdings USA, the parent company, praised Masters upon her hiring, saying her "global financial experience and leadership in U.S. banking aligns well with our broad development strategy and objectives for Santander's business in the U.S." Wall Street Journal, Financial Times

Wall Street Journal

A motley coalition of groups has banded together to push the federal government to stand down on filing lawsuits they say have shut out millions from purchasing a home. At issue is the policy of suing banks that make mistakes on loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration. The Justice Department has sued banks and mortgage lenders for making loans with errors, even minor errors, to prevent more huge losses at the FHA; the DOJ has obtained multimillion-dollar settlements from the likes of JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and SunTrust Banks. But the result has been that instead of taking the risk of running afoul of the DOJ many banks and lenders have stopped making the loans altogether. As a result, up to 1.2 million mortgage loans are not being made per year, the Urban Institute estimated. The group that's lobbying the Obama administration to ease up includes the Mortgage Bankers Association, the Urban Institute, Moody's Analytics and 15 left-leaning groups such as the Center for American Progress.

Not so long ago, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan was getting an earful from investors on his lack of a plan to do more cost-cutting. Moynihan perhaps gained a smidgeon of revenge on Wednesday by being able to report a huge improvement in the bank's efficiency ratio. The key metric improved to 62.5% from 85.3%, the "Heard on the Street" column points out. Additionally, total expenses of $13.82 billion were the lowest in several years.

The earnings reports on July 15 from large regional banks U.S. Bancorp and PNC Financial Services Group were rather blah, not to mention repeating past themes — low interest rates squeezing profits and a lack of real loan demand from commercial borrowers. But U.S. Bancorp did have one bit of good news that made Chief Financial Officer Kathy Rogers a slight bit giddy: its net interest margin didn't shrink from the previous quarter, at least not very much. "There's been a lot of quarters since we have been able to say we'd have a stable NIM. We are very, very happy to report that," Rogers told the paper in an interview. U.S. Bancorp's NIM slipped five basis points from 3.08% in the first quarter to 3.03% in the second quarter.

Financial Times

Sir Mike Rake took his hat and was prepared to walk out Barclays' door, ready to assume his new job at payments processor Worldpay. Then he got a call from the U.K.'s Prudential Regulation Authority requesting that he please stick around until his replacement was hired. The British regulator was concerned it would be too much institutional knowledge leaving Barclays all at once; Antony Jenkins was shoved out as CEO just last week. So, being the honorable British gentleman that he is, Sir Mike acceded. "My only concern through all of this was to keep the regulator properly informed and do what was best for the bank," Sir Mike said. "I am absolutely committed to staying on now until normality returns."

Elsewhere ...

Fortune: The banking industry is becoming a technology industry and the shift hasn't been easy for many bankers, Capital One Financial's chief financial officer Rob Alexander said at a conference sponsored by Fortune. "The winners will be the ones that become a technology business and not remain as an old school banking company," Alexander said. "For big banks, it is a wrenching change." That's probably not a surprising thing to hear from a Capital One executive, as the bank has been one of the most active in acquiring digital-services and design firms, most recently the firm Monsoon.

Washington Times: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a candidate for president, sued the Obama administration to block the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, saying it's unconstitutional and has led Americans living overseas to renounce their citizenship.

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