Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Teflon Jamie: Here's what the headlines are telling us about JPMorgan Chase's Jamie Dimon, who was out-and-about at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Thursday. He's not a fan of Bitcoin. ("It's a terrible store of value," Dimon told CNBC. "It could be replicated over and over." Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, more or less, agrees.) He thinks the "sun, the moon and the stars" have lined up for the U.S. economy. He also thinks the government's enforcement bonanza against his bank was "unfair," (though he declined to go into details.) And, oh yeah, he's getting a raise. Anonymice tell the Times and the Journal JPM's board has voted to increase Dimon's annual compensation for 2013 (which, remember, was slashed in half for 2012, courtesy of the London Whale debacle.) Details of just how much of a bump Dimon will receive have yet to be disclosed, but the mere fact that he's getting a raise at all is sure to enrage many in the populace who have wondered over the last year whether Dimon should still be employed. (Incredulous tweets have already started piling up on Twitter.) Per the Times, "Dimon's defenders point to his active role in negotiating a string of government settlements that helped JPMorgan move beyond some of its biggest legal problems." And a separate Journal column on JPM that does not discuss the raise unwittingly offers another possible explanation: "the bank posted a $380 million lossthe first quarterly red ink spilled during [Dimon's] tenurein the third quarter of 2013 due to $9.1 billion in litigation expenses. Excluding that period, the bank's earnings averaged about $5.7 billion a quarter."
Also Out of Davos: Bank of America's Brian Moynihan was hanging out with U2's Bono. The pair announced a joint HIV/AIDS fundraising effort, which the FT promptly called "an attempt to improve the tarnished image of B of A among American pop fans and Super Bowl audiences." (The effort involves a B of A-sponsored Super Bowl ad designed to raise money for the cause.) United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-Moon urged banks to finance more sustainable businesses. And, behind the scenes, bankers admitted the industry was going through "once-in-a-generation" reform. "To serve its social function of connecting capital with people and ideas, investment banking will go back to being a moving business [trading on behalf of clients] not a storage business [proprietary trading]," one bank chairman tells the FT.
Goldman Eyes Trader Chat Ban: Goldman Sachs is mulling a ban on the use of some third-party computer messaging services in order to prevent information leaks. Per the Journal, the move "ispart of a long struggle by Wall Street to make the most of advances in communications without letting private data seep out." Scan readers will recall a few big banks, including Goldman, JPM and Citigroup, already banned the use of trader chat rooms after discovering the rooms played a role in the alleged rigging of benchmark interest rates.
Wall Street Journal
European and Asian central banks are withdrawing dollar funding. The move will have little effect on financial markets, but does carry "symbolic weight," the paper notes. "After years of recession and financial turmoil, developed economies are on the path to recovery."
Bankrupt Lehman Brothers has reached a deal with Fannie Mae over bad mortgages.
Western Sky will pay a $1.5 million fine and refund interest payments to borrowers to settle New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's claims that the online lender violated state lending laws.
Several state regulators are going after banned securities brokers who continue to sell investments by using insurance licenses. "If you do something bad enough to lose the securities license, you probably shouldn't have an insurance license either," one regulator tells the paper.
New York Times
Job data alone won't inspire the Federal Reserve to move on interest rates, argues columnist Floyd Norris. "Since the Fed set the 6.5 percent target, the unemployment rate has been the odd man out in terms of economic statistics. It has fallen faster than the Fed, or most private forecasters, expected," Norris writes. "But economic growth, as measured by the gross domestic product, has lagged behind those forecasts. During the last year, as the Fed grew more optimistic about the unemployment rate, it grew less optimistic about overall economic growth."
T-Mobile's new alternative checking account/prepaid debit card product could inspire future partnerships between banks and retailers. "Behind every prepaid card is a bank that routes transactions and holds deposits in exchange for fee income," the paper explains. "A handful of regional banks have dominated this niche market, but as the industry grows, more institutions could latch onto the service to offset diminishing revenue." Sounds like a future model of banking we're familiar with.