Receiving Wide Coverage ...

Fed Up: The audit the Fed bill has made a comeback in the new Republican-controlled Congress, but it's still got plenty of detractors. The New York Times' Neil Irwin argues the Fed is already pretty darn transparent and well-audited, especially compared to other government institutions. "When people say they want to audit the Fed, what they really mean is 'The Fed is doing things I disagree with,'" he writes. The Wall Street Journal takes Fed governor Jerome Powell's recent speech opposing the bill as an opportunity to examine the central bank's attempts to appeal to newly empowered Republicans. As the sole Republican governor at the Fed, Powell is taking the lead on the outreach effort. The Fed has also made several Republican hires in recent months.

Wall Street Journal

For banks, a felony plea ain't what it used to be. That's one of the lessons from the Justice Department's attempt to push four big banks to plead guilty to criminal antitrust charges for colluding to manipulate the foreign exchange market, according to the paper. Since BNP Paribas and Credit Suisse pleaded guilty in settlements last year with little major damage, banks aren't so afraid of criminal indictments anymore. On the other hand, government officials think guilty pleas can still unsettle bankers "because of the uncertainty surrounding collateral regulatory consequences."

Central bankers and finance ministers from the Group of 20 largest economies on Tuesday threw their weight behind easy-money policies as a means of boosting global growth. The group statement seems to be "trying to reduce tensions over perceived competitive devaluations by saying it's in the collective good," according to Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Simon Johnson.

Financial Times

Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein seems to be feeling underappreciated. He emphasized the bank is producing stronger returns and is smaller and simpler than its big-bank rivals in a Tuesday presentation to investors. Blankfein's presentation "reflected frustration among Goldman executives that the bank's stock has failed to outperform in recent years despite more resilient earnings," the paper reports.

Elsewhere ...

The Guardian: The paper has a solid report on how stricter enforcement of know your customer and anti-money laundering regulations has curbed poor people's access to bank accounts in developing countries. The article focuses on South Africa, where identification papers and proof of address aren't always easy to come by. It also touches on attempts to address the problem. One company is encouraging banks to use a "standard, online reporting platform" called KEN in order to simplify and reduce the cost of its KYC compliance, an idea American Banker reported on late last year. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, a non-commercial bank, is also trying to fill the gap in services by assuming the risk for providing trade financing.

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