Wall Street Journal

Tough market: This spring's home buying season is shaping up to be the toughest in a decade, as buyers face rising prices and mortgage rates while the number of homes for sale is at a 20-year low. That state of affairs keeps even more homes off the market, as prospective sellers find it hard to trade up and opt to stay put. To make matters worse, the paper reports, "there is a growing mismatch between an abundance of high-price inventory on the market and increasing demand for starter homes."

Financial Times

A pat on the back: The paper says farewell to Daniel Tarullo, whose retirement this week as the chief bank regulator at the Federal Reserve "marks a seminal moment on Wall Street."

Fed Gov. Daniel Tarullo
Daniel Tarullo retires this week as the chief bank regulator at the Federal Reserve. Bloomberg News

"When Mr. Tarullo arrived at the Fed in February 2009, appointed by President Barack Obama to overhaul the central bank's approach to regulation, the big U.S. banks were in a pretty terrible state," it writes. But "by the time the governor penned his resignation letter in February 2017, the same set of banks were among the most robust in the world, with well over twice the level of common equity as a proportion of risk-weighted assets."

Branches down: Citigroup has fallen off the list of the top 15 banks by branches as it shifts upmarket. The bank had only 756 branches at the end of June last year, down from 1,049 in 2009. Its American network is now confined to just six cities: New York, Chicago, Miami, Washington D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco.

We're listening: British banks will have to record all telephone calls, as well as voicemails and instant messages, in order to make their securities trading more transparent. The rule by the Financial Conduct Authority follows its action against a former Jefferies Group investment banker, who was fined more than £37,000 for talking on WhatsApp about deals on which he was working.

Disrupter: The paper profiles Vernon Hill, the founder and chairman of Metro Bank, who is making disruption in the U.K.'s banking industry "his pet project" as he "wants to shake up the retail status quo." While other British banks are closing branches, Metro Bank plans to double its branch network by 2020.

Just an old-fashioned bank: Marketplace lender Elevate, which is trying to come to market with an initial public offering of stock after failing to do so two years ago, is now marketing itself as an old-fashioned banking company, not a peer-to-peer lender. Unlike its competitors in that space which have floundered as investors have stopped buying their loans, Elevate retains the subprime loans it makes on its own balance sheet rather than selling them to third parties.

New York Times

Green light for mergers?: Since the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve has pretty much told big banks to forget about getting even larger through mergers, and no bank has dared to challenge it. But will that change now under President Trump? "Nothing appears to be off the table for the Trump administration as it seeks to pare back the regulations imposed on Wall Street and banks," writes financial columnist William D. Cohan. "There is little doubt change is coming."

Quotable ...

"We're not going to be competing everywhere with a mass branch bank offering." — John Gerspach, Citigroup's chief financial officer

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