Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Hack Attack at JPMorgan: JPMorgan Chase is the newest member of the mega breach club. The bank disclosed in a Thursday regulatory filing that hackers stole the names, email addresses, phone numbers and mailing addresses of 76 million households and seven million small business customers this summer. JPMorgan is assuring customers that it has seen "no unusual fraud activity related to this incident" and says "there is no evidence" that hackers were able to access more sensitive information like account numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers and dates of birth. Perhaps more worrisome is the fact that the attack "went unnoticed for about two months this summer" before JPMorgan identified the breach and put a stop to it in August, according to anonymice who spoke with the Wall Street Journal.
The matter of how cybercriminals gained access to JPMorgan's systems is still unclear. The Journal's sources say hackers used malware to breach JPMorgan's network via an employee's personal computer. The New York Times reports hackers "obtained a list of the applications and programs that run on JPMorgan's computers . which they could crosscheck with known vulnerabilities in each program and web application, in search of an entry point back into the bank's systems." Both papers suggest the attack may be traced back to Russia. The Times goes so far as to say the "lack of any apparent profit motive" in the attack has led some to suspect that the Russian government may be behind it. The Financial Times also notes that the New York Times reported a possible second cyberattack at JPMorgan Thursday, which the bank has denied. Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, Washington Post
Fed Under Fire: Lawmakers are questioning whether the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is willing to play bad cop with big banks in the aftermath of secret recordings released last week detailing the regulator's supervision of Goldman Sachs. "Committees in the Senate and House of Representatives are looking at whether to hold hearings or conduct more extensive investigations into the Fed's oversight of Goldman and other banks," the Times reports. A joint report by ProPublica and "This American Life," based on tapes made by former Fed examiner Carmen Segarra, suggests Fed employees were deferential to Goldman Sachs even as they questioned a "shady" deal with Santander. New York Fed chief William Dudley defended the Fed's integrity at the end of a speech at New York University on Thursday. "We will continue striving to improve, but I don't think anyone should question our motives or what we are attempting to accomplish," he said. Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth Warren called for further investigation into the Fed's supervisory tactics. "The tapes reveal a basic cultural issue: The Fed can identify problems, but can't bring itself to make the banks fix those problems," she said in a statement Thursday. Wall Street Journal, New York Times
Loan Denied, Bernanke: When even Ben Bernanke can't get approved to refinance his home, you know the mortgage market is out of whack. That denial was revealed by the former Fed chair at a conference Thursday to illustrate the larger argument that tight lending standards are holding back the housing recovery. The Times' Neil Irwin says the "thoroughly automated world of mortgage finance" is the key issue. While Bernanke clearly has "vast earning potential," he recently changed jobs and now rakes in a healthy but uneven incomea red flag according to the formulas that calculate borrowers' credit risk. The Washington Post hazards fewer guesses about why Bernanke was denied a loan, though it speculates a lack of verifiable income may be the problem.
Wall Street Journal
Citigroup's plans to offload its subprime lending unit OneMain Financial "could be a sign that subprime loans are again becoming a niche product dominated by less-regulated nonbanks," the paper reports. Meanwhile, the bank's difficulty in figuring out how to get rid of OneMain "underscores the challenge it faces as it attempts to slim down and find steadier, less-risky sources of revenue."
JPMorgan Chase is close to exiting the physical commodities business. The bank is expected to sell one of the last remaining pieces of the business to Swiss trading firm Mercuria Energy Group for roughly $800 million this week, according to the paper.
Who's afraid of Apple Pay? Banks shouldn't be, according to columnist John Authers. He writes banks can survive competition from high-tech companies thanks to customer inertia and the difficulties that firms have gaining entry to the heavily regulated industry. Banks "must brace to lose the reliable and easy revenues they generate through payments," as Apple Pay, PayPal and Bitcoin gain ground, Authers adds, but "their core business, lending, should remain intact."
New York Times
The federal government can staunch student loan defaults by "pressing both schools and the loan servicing companies to educate students on affordable partial payment plans," according to an unsigned editorial.
The Times looks at a number of companies working on alternative credit scoring models that aim to help Americans who are currently "credit invisibles" gain access to loans. The firms mentioned include LC2 in Atlanta and Progreso Financiero, which works with Hispanic customers in California, Texas and Illinois.