Receiving Wide Coverage ...
JPM Shuffle: Shao Zili, JPMorgan Chase's chairman and chief executive in China, will step down from those positions and take over as vice chairman of the Asia-Pacific region as soon as a replacement is found. The unofficial official word from the bank anony-mice leaked a memo is that Shao wanted "to return to a regional role." Of course, it's hard not to correlate the departure to federal authorities' ongoing investigation into whether JPM hired the sons and daughters of Chinese officials in order to gain business. Per the FT's anony-mice, however, "there is no suggestion that Mr. Shao has broken any laws, although his responsibility for a country, which is the subject of U.S. regulatory investigations, did weigh on his position." Shao's departure is the division's second big loss in less than a month. Scan readers will recall that Fang Fang, the bank's chief executive for China investment banking and vice chairman of investment banking in Asia, announced his "retirement" in late March.
Italian Share Sale: Italian bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena is increasing the number of shares it plans to sell (from 3 billion to 5 billion) in efforts to pass an upcoming European stress test. The beleaguered bank is also up against a deadline to start paying back its 4.1 billion bailout this year. New York Times, Financial Times
Wall Street Journal
Whoa: "With losses widening and cash shrinking, representatives of mobile-payments startup Square Inc. have discussed a possible sale to several deeper-pocketed rivals." Anony-mice tell the paper these deeper-pocketed rivals include Google, Apple and PayPal, though pretty much everyone involved is formally denying discussions took place and/or that Square is mulling a sale at all. The article goes on to say that Square is barely breaking even and that's it much ballyhooed partnership with Starbucks actually cost it money. Hmm. Maybe banks shouldn't be so worried about Square, after all.
A deep dive into what went wrong at now-defunct Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, courtesy of an anony-mouse: "For some of this time in early 2014, [CEO Mark Karpelès] sat in his office watching anime or episodes of 'Breaking Bad,' and complained he was gaining weight. At a time when Mt. Gox needed to tightly seal its systems and find new banks, Mr. Karpelès concentrated on what to serve in the planned bitcoin cafe, consulting with French chefs and coffee experts."
Mortgage lenders are loosening standards for home buyers, "a sign of their rising confidence in the housing market."
Big banks are warning about a decline in their net interest margins, thanks to the effect low rates are having on loan and investment profits. "The continued decline is surprising analysts who expected the Federal Reserve's withdrawal of economic stimulus to lead to higher rates and better profit margins at the biggest U.S. banks," the paper notes.
Some big banks most notably Goldman Sachs are fighting hard to keep their commodities businesses.
New York Times
The latest column from Gretchen Morgenson looks at banks' push to keep riskier collateralized loan obligations on the books in spite of the Volcker Rule, which currently prohibits a chunk of them. "And what of the argument that small banks will incur crippling losses when forced to sell their C.L.O. holdings under the Volcker Rule?" she writes. "Not true. Small banks simply don't own large amounts of this paper."