Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Ripple Hits a Bump: Digital currency startup Ripple Labs touts a focus on compliance as one of its distinguishing traits, which makes it surprising the company has just become the first virtual currency exchange to be slapped with a civil action. Ripple Labs has agreed to pay $700,000 and improve its anti-money laundering program as part of a settlement with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and the Department of Justice. U.S. authorities say the company acted as an unregistered money service business during its early days in 2013 and neglected to put an adequate anti-money laundering program in place. American Banker, Wall Street Journal, Forbes
Lending Club Lookin' Good: Lending Club beat analysts' expectations by lowering losses in the first quarter, shrinking them from $7.3 million to $6.4 million year-over-year. The Journal reports the company's biggest focus at the moment is on differentiating itself in the increasingly crowded field of marketplace lending. The Financial Times notes Lending Club's competitor OnDeck reduced the interest rates charged to borrowers in the first quarter, raising questions about whether the industry can continue to maintain high yields for investors.
Will HSBC Walk? HSBC's chief executive says the bank will decide whether to move its headquarters from London in order to avoid increasingly strict bank taxes and regulations by the end of the year. CEO Stuart Gulliver promises the possibility of the move "isn't meant to be a threat." But the FT suggests that's exactly what it is and HSBC is justified in making it: "A balance needs to be struck between protecting taxpayers from bank collapses and supporting a financial industry that is one of the U.K.'s few sources of competitive advantage."
Wall Street Journal
The May 2010 flash crash prompted regulators to create a data project that would allow them to better identify market fluctuations and manipulations. But there seems to be a bit of a hold up. The organizations charged with overseeing the development of a Consolidated Audit Trail haven't picked a firm to build it, the Securities and Exchange Commission hasn't approved a final plan for it, and nobody knows how to pay for the thing. Lawmakers are getting impatient, but people involved in the process say it's too complex to be rushed.
Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen is under the microscope in a Congressional investigation of a possible leak at the central bank, according to the paper. Yellen met with a representative from financial consultancy Medley Global Advisors in the months before it published confidential information about the central bank's policy meeting. The timing of Yellen's sit-downs with Medley seems to absolve her from responsibility for the leak, but one expert interviewed by the paper say the meetings could still appear to offer the firm preferential treatment. On the other hand, it's likely that Yellen wasn't doing much talking, according to another interviewee: "Usually the folks at the Fed, when they have those sorts of meetings, they have to be careful not to reveal too much."
Ivette Agosto started out slinging coffee for JPMorgan Chase employees at the Starbucks in the company's Park Avenue headquarters. Now she's a personal banker at a Chase retail branch, thanks to the support of Chase consumer bank head Barry Sommers.
The city of Los Angeles is suing Wells Fargo for allegedly engaging in shady sales tactics, including opening customer accounts without their knowledge. The city says Wells Fargo's overbearing managers pressured employees to improve their sales numbers any way they could. The bank denies the charges.
Federal Housing Finance Agency director Mel Watt may give the heads of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac a raise. Lots of people within the Obama administration aren't too wild about the idea, according to the paper.
Former Texas governor Rick Perry has flipped on the future of the Export-Import Bank. Although he once wanted Congress to reauthorize the bank, now he thinks it would be better to shut it down. Corruption and bribery at the institution is a problem, he writes, and he also thinks it will be hard to convince the public to reduce corporate taxes "if we continue to subsidize corporate exports for corporations that already enjoy low effective tax rates."
New York Times
Wall Street and its regulators are on the same page about at least one thing: bond market volatility could trigger big problems for the global economy. However, the paper also notes these warnings should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism: "Bankers and asset managers, after all, might be tempted to overstate their concerns, with an eye on their bottom lines."