Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Regaining a Good Name ... Slowly: Americans trust banks more now than they did in 2012but that's a pretty low bar to clear. Twenty-eight percent of people say they have a lot of confidence in banks, up from 21% the last time the survey was conducted three years ago, according to a June Gallup survey of 1,527 adults. While the American Bankers Association's blog appeared heartened by the improvement, other op-eds say the survey results prove that Americans still "hate" banks. Gallup senior consultant Beth Youra says that part of the problem is that Americans never got closure from the financial crisis, compounded by the fact that people typically prefer small businesses over corporate behemoths and tend to lump all banksincluding the little guysinto the latter category. Another issue: the stories of bankers who do good rarely get told, while tales of hedonistic corruption like the The Wolf of Wall Street continue to draw crowds. Marketwatch columnist David Weidner largely agrees with Youra's diagnosis, but takes a dim view of the industry's potential for change. "Banking is too consolidated" to turn around its reputation with better customer service and support, he argues.
Wall Street Journal
Nonbank mortgage lenders are extending credit to riskier borrowers, and opinions are divided on whether this is bad news. The paper suggests that lenders' willingness to offer mortgages to people who have recently been through a foreclosure, short sale or bankruptcy could signal the beginning of a slide into loose lending standards. But it also interviews lenders who say that one foreclosure "shouldn't define the person for ever." Lending to these borrowers can also be more lucrative, since firms can charge higher interest rates. Down in the comments section, some readers see signs of another subprime crisis brewing. But others appear unbothered by the situation as long as it's confined to loans that aren't backed by the government.
JPMorgan Chase has been sitting down with the Securities and Exchange Commission to discuss possible settlements for a probe into whether the bank directed private-bank clients to its own investment products. No word yet on the size of the settlement, but be on the lookout for it this summer.
Citigroup is gunning for a larger slice of Asia's wealth-management clients, with plans to double its share of customers there to one million over the next five years.
Bank of New York Mellon and JPMorgan Chase are still hacking away at repo reforms, but the New York Fed says they'll probably need some more time to finish the effort. On the upside, the Fed seems pleased with the work they've completed so far: it said in a statement Wednesday that the banks "have made progress in reducing the amount of intraday credit they are extending to dealer banks to below a self-imposed target."
Banks will only embrace bitcoin technology if their chief information officers get comfortable with open-source platforms and application program interfaces, the paper suggests.
In the aftermath of the financial crisis, people on both sides of the Atlantic have called for a return to the traditional banking of yore. But let's not allow nostalgia to color our memories, says U.K. economics commentator Frances Coppola: back in the good old days, "an appointment with your local bank manager was often a terrifying ordeal; and lenders routinely denied women access to credit." Coppola acknowledges the need for old-fashioned customer service in brick-and-mortar outlets, but she also says that banks need to balance that approach with real-time payment services, easy-to-use online banking and innovative credit-scoring techniques.
Americans are saving less and living closer to the edge of financial disaster, the paper writes. "Some 29% of people don't have money set aside to cover emergencies, up from 26% last year," according to a new survey from Bankrate.com. And only 22% say they have enough funds set aside to last six months, a five-year low. The issue mostly comes down to stagnant wages and run-of-the-mill bills that eat up the bulk of workers' paychecks, according to the report. A personal finance expert suggests that would-be savers start small by setting aside just $25 or $50 from their paychecks and working up from there.
An op-ed by former secretary of labor Robert Reich puts big banks on blast for breaking the law and facing few consequences. He thinks more places should follow the lead of Santa Cruz County's board of supervisors, which recently voted to refrain from doing business for the next five years with any of the five banks implicated in an alleged conspiracy to rig the foreign-exchange market. "What if all of us taxpayers said, in effect, we're not going to hire these convicted felons to handle our public finances?" Reich asks. "That would hit these banks directly. They'd lose our business. Which might even cause them to clean up their acts."