Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Forex Fines: The unethical attitudes that gave rise to the forex scandal might be summed up by this revealing 2010 chat message from a Barclays trader: "If you aint cheating, you aint trying." This noteworthy tidbit accompanied the news that six big banks have agreed to pay more than $5.8 billion to settle allegations related to foreign-exchange rate-rigging. Four of the sixCitigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotlandare also pleading guilty to criminal charges in forex cases, while UBS pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to Libor. (Bank of America agreed to pay a fine to the Federal Reserve but avoided a guilty plea.) The Wall Street Journal reminds readers that this flurry of guilt "would have been unthinkable only a few years ago, when executives warned the fallout from such a move would be disastrous to their ability to conduct business." But guilty pleas from foreign institutions like Credit Suisse and BNP Paribas have since proven that they don't put much of a dent in banks' operations. In fact, some industry experts are suggesting that the settlements don't go far enough. A member of the Bank of England's fair and effective markets review tells the Financial Times that "questions will be asked as to why no CEO or senior figure has resigned at any of these banks as the size of this fine and the investigations so far have revealed the rigging of forex was part of the culture of these banks." The FT's own Lex Team scolds investors for responding to news of the settlements with relief, arguing that there's still plenty of uncertainty about both regulators' "astonishingly opaque" process for determining fines and how effective the fines are at getting banks to clean up their acts. The latter concern is shared by New York Times columnist Peter J. Hennings, who raises the possibility that "top executives will shrug off the penalties as just the average cost of doing business." And another FT columnist worries over the transcripts that detail traders colluding to rig rates in chat rooms, in which all participants "seem to have believed they were immune from being rumbled for abusive behavior."
So Long, Lawsky: New York's top financial watchdog Benjamin Lawsky is about to get a taste of the startup life. Lawsky had been expected to step down from his position as the head of New York's Department of Financial Services for some time. But rather than go the traditional route of accepting a high-paying private-sector gig at a major firm, the so-called "sheriff of Wall Street" is opening his own consulting and legal business. Governor Andrew Cuomo is still in the process of picking Lawsky's successor, but experts say banks shouldn't get their hopes up for a softie: "Those who take the position will be looking to follow in his footsteps and get the same publicity that Lawsky got," an analyst quoted in the Journalwrote in a note to his clients. "That means bringing high-profile enforcement actions." The New York Times has a list of potential candidates, courtesy of anonymice. Lawsky's law firm will focus on helping companies in the financial sector and other industries navigate technological and cybersecurity issues, the papers report, and he's also accepted a position as a lecturer at Stanford University's digital initiative. Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times.
Fed to Hold Off on Rate Hike: The Federal Reserve is unlikely to raise its benchmark interest rate in June, according to minutes from the central bank's recent policy meeting. The Fed wants to wait to raise rates until the economic data looks stronger. The Times suggests a hike will probably happen in the near-ish future, while the Journal seems more doubtful about the timeline. The Washington Post notes that economists are worried that the first quarter's subpar economic growth will continue into the second, particularly if consumer spending fails to pick up.
Management Shakeups and Roiled Investors: Deutsche Bank investors are displeased with the German lender: profits are too low, and regulatory fines are way too high. But the bank's leadership requested shareholders' patience at the start of its annual meeting Thursday, promising that Deustche is working hard to shape up. As part of that effort, Deutsche announced a number of management changes late Wednesday. Co-chief executive Anshu Jain is getting an even bigger role: he will "assume responsibility for the bank's strategic development and take care of transforming its operating model to boost efficiency," the Journal reports. The Financial Times says that putting Jain in charge of these initiatives is meant to demonstrate the bank's seriousness about its cost-savings program. Meanwhile, retail chief Rainer Neske is being replaced by head of legal Christian Sewing, who will continue to hold his previous role in addition to the new gig.
High Stakes in Ex-Im Battle: The fate of the Export-Import Bank is now tied to that of President Obama's high-priority trade bill. Several senators are spearheading an effort to save the Ex-Im Bank by "throwing up a number of procedural roadblocks to slow down the trade bill," including raising the possibility of adding the reauthorization of the bank to the fast-track legislation. The Times discusses the impact of the fight over the Ex-Im Bank on a drinking water project in Cameroon, which was funded with loan guarantees from the bank.
New York Times
A new small-business lending startup called ZipCap is targeting merchants with a loyal customer base and little collateral. Small businesses that want to take out a loan get their customers to vouch for plans to spend a certain amount of money over a given time period; "ZipCap then tallies up those pledges and allows businesses to borrow against a portion of it."