Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Pay up: The European Court of Justice ruled that Spanish lenders must reimburse mortgage borrowers for charging them excess interest payments on variable-rate mortgages. The ruling, which can't be appealed, follows a 2013 decision by Spain's highest court that outlawed "mortgage floor" agreements on loans because banks didn't pass along the savings from low rates to customers. The ECJ confirmed the Spanish court decision but also said borrowers could seek reimbursement for all excess payments dating back to 2009 when the loans were introduced. Under the ruling, Spanish banks may have to refund 4.5 billion euros, or about $4.68 billion, to customers. Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times
Wall Street Journal
Targeted: Senate Democrats are trying to tag Steven Mnuchin "The Foreclosure King" as they plot strategies to derail the Treasury secretary-designate's nomination. Mnuchin previously was previously chairman and CEO of OneWest, a bank he bought from the government during the financial crisis and later sold to CIT Group, which the Democrats now call a "foreclosure machine." The bank has been accused of unfairly forcing borrowers into foreclosure.
Tapped: President-elect Donald Trump named activist investor Carl Icahn as his special adviser on overhauling federal regulations. According to the paper, Icahn "is playing a central role in selecting the next chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission" and "weighed in enthusiastically" behind Trump's nomination of Mnuchin and Commerce secretary-designate Wilbur Ross.
Free: JPMorgan Chase's credit card unit is launching a website that will provide both customers and non-customers with their credit scores and allow them to see how certain financial behavior will affect them. The free service, called Credit Journey, provides consumers with a VantageScore, a credit rating similar to a FICO score. The service also has a simulator that shows how certain actions could affect the score.
Going long: Steve Eisman of "The Big Short" fame is going long on U.S. banks. The former hedge fund manager, portrayed in the book and movie of the same name, "said he knew the moment Donald Trump was confirmed as the next president of the United States that the outlook for the banks was transformed," the FT writes. Now a senior portfolio manager at Neuberger Berman, Eisman "started buying bank stocks the morning after and has bought more since, convinced that the next few years will see a profit-boosting mix of looser regulation, higher interest margins and lighter capital standards."
Fined: Goldman Sachs was fined $120 million by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for its role in trying to rig Isdafix, a key benchmark in the interest-rate swaps market. "The CFTC said that Goldman's unlawful conduct involved multiple traders, including the head of the bank's interest-rate products trading group in the U.S.," the FT said.
Separately, Spanish bank BBVA's U.S. securities unit was fined $27 million by the Federal Reserve for exceeding risk limits imposed by the Fed and then filing inaccurate reports about it.
"This is the first time we've overweighted [banks] since the financial crisis. We're maximum overweight, pretty much." — Steve Eisman, hedge fund manager at Neuberger Berman