Wall Street Journal
The "London whale" doesn't want you to call him the "London whale." Bruno Iksil resents the nickname, which he said his competitors devised to make his trade losses at JPMorgan Chase seem worse than they were. Also, Iksil said senior management at JPMorgan "initiated, approved, mandated and monitored" the trades he placed that led to losses of $6 billion. So Iksil said he didn't do anything wrong there, either.
Iksil didn't forget to blame the media. "For no good reason, I was singled out by the media," he said. Life's tough when you're the scapegoat. The lashing-out was included in a three-page, single-spaced letter that Iksil sent to several publications. Iksil's letter included a breakdown of the instances in which he told his bosses about the risks of the trades that they ordered him to make. The Justice Department in 2013 told Iksil that he would not face charges.
Moving on to other facets of life at JPMorgan Chase, the bank has been testing uses of the blockchain technology on about 2,200 clients. JPMorgan wants to see if blockchain can produce faster turnaround times and lower risk on currency clearing and settlements. It may try to use blockchain for live transactions later this year.
Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon plans to discuss the bank's use of blockchain during its annual investor day, scheduled for Tuesday. Dimon may also talk about JPMorgan increasing its spending on cyber security by about 20%; and how it will shift more spending to application development and fintech partnerships.
Speaking of Dimon, his attempt to impersonate Warren Buffett is looking good so far. Dimon bought 500,000 shares of JPMorgan on Feb. 11, a time when the shares had fallen 20% for the year. The shares have risen in price from the $26.6 million Dimon paid for them, to $28.9 million, as of the close of Friday trading. That's what some folks call "value investing."
Google will shut down its site that lets consumers compare financial products. Did you even know Google had such a site? Google Compare allows users to shop for credit cards, mortgages, auto insurance and more. But the site will start to wind down this month with a termination date of March 23.
There are a slew of competing consumer-focused sites for financial products, like CreditKarma, LearnVest, MagnifyMoney and NerdWallet. The personal-financial management sites (aka PFMs, aka screen-scrapers) also include elements of comparison-shopping, such as Intuit's Mint and Envestnet's Yodlee.
In many cases, the sites generate revenue by getting a referral fee when a consumer clicks on a link. It's a targeted-ad play, under the theory that a consumer who is already looking for, say, a credit card, is a better target than a consumer walking to his or her mailbox.
An unnamed source told the Journal that Compare wasn't as popular with advertisers as Google had hoped, in part because they were already buying search ads from Google. Also, Compare may have been a slight misnomer, in the sense that it didn't really let consumers compare everything available on the market; Google failed to recruit some of the largest lenders and insurers to participate on the site.
New York Post: The former CEO of Ally Financial accused the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of strong-arming the bank into a $100 million settlement of racial-discrimination charges. The CFPB accused Ally of charging higher interest rates to black and minority customers. Ally was forced to settle, in order to obtain regulatory approvals to divest certain businesses and raise equity to repay its Tarp funds, Michael Carpenter said in an interview with the Post.
Since then, the CFPB has used the Ally settlement to force Toyota Motor Credit, American Honda Finance, Fifth Third Bancorp and others to cap interest rates, Carpenter said. The CFPB's accusations against Ally of racial discrimination were false and Ally would have fought them in court, but it needed regulators to approve its divestiture plan and it had to exit Tarp, Carpenter said. The ability to repay Tarp was necessary, in order for Ally to protect the American taxpayer, he said.
Since then, Ally has been "randomly cutting refund checks" to auto-loan borrowers, outside the settlement, in what is essentially an effort to "pay protection money" to pass future CFPB fair lending tests, Carpenter said.
The Hill: The ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee slammed Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., for the panel's not confirming any of the 16 nominations before it last year. Shelby faces three primary challengers and has said that he will freeze the Banking Committee's work until the primary election is over. He blocked six nominees in December from receiving committee approval.