Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Yellen Speech: Janet Yellen gave her first public speech as Federal Reserve chair Monday. General consensus among news outlets is that her speech which included stories about individuals struggling in the job market was, at least in part, aimed at getting investors to calm down about interest rates coming down sooner than expected. (Scan readers will recall the market took a tumble a few weeks ago after Yellen seemingly laid the groundwork for a future rate hike.) "Yellen's speech seemed tailored to help the Fed shed the cloistered reputation it earned in the decades leading up to the financial crisis," adds the Washington Post's Ylan Q. Mui. "The central bank's top officials have made transparency and communication with the public a priority since the Great Recession, and nearly every aspect of Yellen's event was steeped in the real economy." Wall Street Journal, New York Times
High-Speed Chase: The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether high-speed traders are engaging in insider trading, the Journal reports. "Among the types of trading under scrutiny is the practice of placing a group of trades and then canceling them to create the false appearance of market activity," the paper notes. "Another form of activity under scrutiny involves using high-speed trading to place orders to conceal that the transactions are based on an illegal tip." News of the investigation which was apparently launched about a year ago comes at a time when high-speed trading firms find themselves under increased regulatory scrutiny. It also comes one day after the debut of Michael Lewis' new book "Flash Boys" (not mentioned in the Journal article) which argues that the stock market is rigged in favor of high-speed traders. That book is, however, the subject of two Dealbook articles. The first, a column authored by Andrew Ross Sorkin, argues that Lewis is tapping the wrong villains. "He points mostly to the hedge funds and investment banks engaged in high-frequency trading," Sorkin writes. "But Mr. Lewis seemingly glosses over the real black hats: the big stock exchanges, which are enabling and profiting handsomely from the extra-fast access they are providing to certain investors." The second article, which mentions the FBI investigation, rounds up Wall Street's reaction to the book. "Critics argue that Mr. Lewis broke no new ground," write Michael J. de la Merced and William Alden. "And a number of executives at the firms mentioned in the book said that Mr. Lewis did not double-check the facts." One exchange president tells them: "Michael Lewis clearly has a blind side, as we've just discovered." (Wocka, wocka, wocka.)
Your Latest Bitcoin News: The Times profiles the Bitcoin ATM and its possible competitors. "The difficulty of turning cash into Bitcoin online has created demand for easier ways to buy virtual currencies," the article notes. "The allure of providing this service has drawn in several companies hoping to build a machine that will make Bitcoin available to people on the street." Meanwhile, Dealbook's Nathaniel Popper offers this take on Bitcoin: "Beyond the practical concerns that Bitcoin is taking on, the virtual currency is helping to fuel broad debates about the way the world's central banks currently create and manage money." By the way and we swear this isn't an April's Fool joke Square just announced it will be accepting Bitcoin in its online marketplace.
Still Parsing the Stress Test Results: The Journal's Francesco Guerrera offers five lessons following the Federal Reserve's rejection and/or scale-back requests regarding banks' capital plans. "The common thread in last week's events was the forward-looking nature of the issues, from succession at J.P. Morgan to Citigroup's future and the new regulatory regime," he concludes. "It wasn't a lavish party, but at least investors had plenty to chew on." Meanwhile, the FT quotes John Reed, former co-chief executive of Citi, on the Fed's rejection of the bank's capital plan: "Having three or four CEOs in the last decade hasn't helped."
Wall Street Journal
A dozen large investors are suing 12 banks Bank of America, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPM, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS for allegedly conspiring to rig foreign exchange markets.
Ousted Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond has agreed to purchase BancABC, a lender that operates in Zimbabwe.