Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Smoked: Shares of Ocwen stock plunged by more than half on Thursday after several states and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau filed what the New York Times described as a "fusillade of lawsuits and enforcement orders" against the subprime mortgage servicer for a laundry list of alleged "systemic" abuses against homeowners, including illegal foreclosures, deceptive fees and mishandling of customers' mortgage payments. The company, which has been sued and reprimanded countless times in recent years, denied the accusations, calling them "inaccurate and unfounded." Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, American Banker
You talk too much: Deutsche Bank agreed to pay $157 million in penalties to the Federal Reserve for alleged violations of foreign exchange and proprietary trading rules. The Fed said the German bank failed to detect that its FX traders talked about their trading positions with competitors on electronic chatrooms. It also didn't have a program in place to adequately comply with the Volcker rule on proprietary trading. Wall Street Journal, Financial Times
Wall Street Journal
Relaxing regs: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said his department will recommend "significant changes" to financial regulation when it issues a report on regulatory relief in June. Mnuchin said the department is looking to fix areas "where regulators aren't working together, where there is conflicting regulation."
"This is not about having no regulation," Mnuchin said, but relaxing those rules that impede bank lending and liquidity.
Ready to roll (back): Meanwhile, the House Financial Services Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing next Wednesday to begin discussing the Financial Choice Act 2.0, the Republicans' blueprint for financial reform. The bill would roll back significant parts of the Dodd-Frank Act and limit the powers of the CFPB and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Joining the fight: U.S. Bancorp is joining the premium credit card battle. On May 1, the bank plans to launch its Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite card, which will offer three points per dollar spent on airfare, hotels and other travel categories and three points when cardholders make purchases with their mobile wallets. The card will cost $400 a year, less than the $550 a year American Express charges for its Platinum card and $450 for JPMorgan Chase's Sapphire Reserve card.
Bank analysts expect other entrants into the upscale card category. If "U.S. Bank is thinking about it, then PNC is thinking about it, KeyBank is thinking about it, and it means the barrier to entry is low," one banker told the paper.
Waiting game: Speaking of regional banks, they – and their customers – are waiting for Washington before making any big moves. These banks, the Heard on the Street column notes, "are highly levered to economic growth in the U.S., even more so than the big money center banks, which can benefit from healthy overseas growth and rising markets. If domestic growth doesn't kick in, then interest rates won't go much higher, depriving these banks of their best source of profit gains. Clearer signals from Washington would clearly help."
New retail chief: Citigroup has named David Chubak to lead its global retail banking and mortgages. A member of the bank's operating committee, he "has worked closely with Chief Executive Michael Corbat on efforts to slash operational costs and refocus on a smaller number of businesses, especially in retail banking," the paper said.
Hello, Fannie: Celeste Mellet Brown, Morgan Stanley's treasurer and one of the more senior women at the firm, is leaving the company after 17 years to become deputy chief financial officer at Fannie Mae. She will be succeeded by John Ryan, a finance executive at the firm.
Better bottom lines: Higher interest rates are already starting to boost banks' bottom lines. Lending margins rose by the most in seven years in the first quarter, the FT reports, after reaching their lowest level in six decades last year. According to one analyst, American banks would earn an additional $11 billion this year if that margin increase were to hold up.
Success story: Shon Hopwood is profiled. The convicted bank robber has rehabilitated himself and is now part of the faculty at Georgetown University Law Center.
"Ocwen has repeatedly made mistakes and taken shortcuts at every stage of the mortgage servicing process, costing some consumers money and others their homes." – CFPB Director Richard Cordray