Receiving Wide Coverage ...
More Costs for RBS: What's another $5 billion or so for the British taxpayer? Royal Bank of Scotland will set aside £3 billion to cover potential claims related to mortgage-backed securities and other products it sold before the financial crisis, it announced after the bell Monday. These new charges could force RBS "every lawyer's favorite U.K. bank," according to the Journal to declare a loss of as much as £8 billion, or more than $13 billion, when it announces its year-end results next month. The fresh costs could raise the pressure on the company to sell off Citizens Bank, its U.S. unit, in order to raise its capital ratios, the FT says. It's a setback for recently installed chief executive Ross McEwan as he seeks to change RBS' culture, according to the New York Times. And how do the British taxpayers, owners of 81% of the bank, feel about the latest charges? Not great. "Loss rubs salt into nation's wounds," FT editor Patrick Jenkins opines. Bloomberg
Bitcoin Backlash: The bad press keeps coming for Bitcoin. Charlie Shrem, identified by the FT as a "Bitcoin entrepreneur" and "one of the Bitcoin community's most colorful characters," was arrested Monday at New York's Kennedy Airport and charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. Scandinavian financial institutions have been rejecting requests to manage Bitcoin accounts over concerns that the digital currency could be used for illegal transactions, Bloomberg reports. Meanwhile, New York state regulators will hold hearings Tuesday to determine whether Bitcoin needs a tailor-made set of regulations. Benjamin Lawsky, the financial crime-fighting head of the N.Y. Department of Financial Services, is considering issuing "BitLicenses" for companies that deal in the currency. But will regulation legitimize Bitcoin, or strangle it? PaymentsSource has the story.
Keep Off My Turf: Banking regulators, step off Michael Piwowar's block. The SEC commissioner says the Fed and the FSOC are encroaching on the regulator's territory, which represents an "existential threat" to the SEC. Bloomberg, Washington Post
Former Deutsche Exec Dead: Deutsche Bank announced the death of former senior risk manager William Broeksmit, close ally of co-Chief Executive Anshu Jain. London police confirmed they found a 58-year-old man hanged at Broeksmit's house, Reuters reported. Broeksmit was "among the finest minds in the fields of risk and capital management," Jain and co-CEO Juergen Fitschen wrote in a memo to employees announcing his death. Bloomberg
BMO Parent to Buy British Asset Manager: The parent company of Bank of Montreal has agreed to pay £708 million, about $1.2 billion, for F&C Asset Management, a British money manager. F&C, London's oldest asset manager, has seen a "spectacular fall from grace" over the past decade, says the Financial Times. New York Times, Blooomberg
Wall Street Journal
For years it's been the same story: banks talk about the need to cut branches, while the number of branches nationwide keeps growing. But that may be changing, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The number of bank branches in the U.S. dropped by about 1,500 last year to about 96,000, the lowest level since 2006 as lenders looked to shave costs and emphasize online banking. Bank of America and PNC led the pack in net closures last year. JPMorgan, zigging while the rest of the industry zagged, raised its branch count by 34, the largest increase on the year, the paper said.
The Journal forced the SEC to release a cache of documents as part of the paper's investigation into the AIG near-collapse and bailout. But the SEC redacted the documents so heavily that the redactions themselves were the subject of the paper's story. Click through for the stunning truth about the AIG bailout: "[redacted] in the [redacted] did [redacted]," reads one heavily blacked out document.
Investors are not happy with the latest iPhone sales figures, but no matter; the tech company is pushing forward into mobile payments. Apple CEO Tim Cook has reportedly had meetings with industry executives about handling more payments on its devices, which would be a way to leverage the massive database of credit card info the company holds through its iTunes store, the paper said.
New York Times
Narayana Kocherlakota, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, was once a firm opponent of the Fed's stimulus efforts. Now he's the only senior official at the central bank arguing that it should do more, the Times says.
Bloomberg: About one-third of Swiss banks have accepted amnesty from the U.S. in exchange for agreeing to tell regulators how they helped Americans hide assets. The U.S. government extended non-prosecution agreements to about 300 Swiss banks last year as part of a five-year crackdown on oversees tax evasion; 106 have agreed to cooperate.
Bloomberg: Bonuses are up at American securities firms based in London, which is partly a "ripple effect" from a good year for banks in the U.S.