Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Gold Rush: Three armed robbers stole historic gold nuggets from Wells Fargo's corporate museum in San Francisco on Tuesday. The masked suspects crashed their sports-utility vehicle into the entrance of the museum and broke into the display case while holding a security guard at gunpoint, according to reports. At an estimated value of $10,000, the nuggets are hardly a staggering haul, but the New York Times notes they have sentimental value: "the nuggets date to the early days of Wells Fargo, which was founded during the gold rush of the 19th century." The Times also reports the cost of repairing the damage to the museum entrance is likely to be about $200,000, far outweighing the loss of the gold. The Wall Street Journal's account is fairly brief and to the point, though the story attracted a lively bunch of commenters.
Wall Street Journal
As Janet Yellen wraps up her first year as Federal Reserve chair, the paper takes a look at the challenges she is likely to face in 2015. The big one, of course, is deciding whether and when to raise short-term interest rates. That question will be made more difficult by a muddled economic picture, the paper reports: "While the U.S. job market has improved more quickly than policy makers expected, inflation continues to undershoot the Fed's 2% target and is likely to fall further due to plunging oil prices." Yellen's judgment calls will help shape her legacy.
Citibank will relax its screening requirements for checking and savings accounts under an agreement with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the paper reports. The bank, which uses data from the consumer-reporting agency ChexSystems, "will modify its screening criteria and only decline applicants if they have two or more reported incidents of account abuse in recent years, the total combined loss from those incidents exceeds $500 and the losses remain unpaid." The change is intended to ensure that more low-income applicants are able to gain access to banking services.
Former Fed vice chairman Alan Blinder warns in an op-ed the central bank may "spend the year defending itself against a series of congressional attacks on its independence." He's concerned recently passed legislation requiring the Federal Reserve Board to include at least one community banker sets precedent for "assigning board seats to specific constituencies." But he's even more worried about the resurgence of proposals that would require the Fed's monetary policy to abide by the Taylor rule, give Congress permission to audit the Fed's decisions and curtail the central bank's ability to act as a lender of last resort.
Europe's interpretation of Basel III is too permissive in its "risk-free treatment" of eurozone banks' sovereign credit risks, according to the Basel Committee.
CIT Group doubled its profit in the fourth quarter as it continued to expand its commercial business. Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank investors will be on the lookout for clues about the fate of the lender's Postbank retail unit when the bank releases its quarterly results Thursday.
New York Times
Alibaba is getting into the consumer credit rating business. A unit of the Chinese e-commerce company is launching Sesame Credit Management, which will attempt to determine people's creditworthiness by culling online data about their bill payments, residential histories and online purchases.
Defense lawyers are protesting the Securities and Exchange Commission's recent shift toward trying more cases before administrative law judges rather than heading to federal court. Peter J. Henning suggests the defense may have a point. The key question, he writes, is "whether administrative judges are sufficiently accountable to the president that there is no violation of separation of powers principles."