Trump to nominate Cain to Fed; Dimon calls for mortgage reforms

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Raising Cain
President Trump said he will nominate Herman Cain to the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, “signaling his desire to remake the nation’s central bank after complaining about it for months. The selection of Mr. Cain, following the president’s decision to nominate his former campaign adviser Stephen Moore, marks an effort to install two Fed critics and loyal Trump supporters on the central bank’s powerful seven-seat board. While the nominations would be subject to Senate confirmation, they would underscore Mr. Trump’s growing unhappiness with Fed policy under Jerome Powell,” whom the president also picked.

“The decision to consider Mr. Cain is the second time in weeks that the president has floated candidates with deeply held political views and past ethical issues to fill a seat on the Fed.”

The selection of Cain “would significantly escalate the White House’s effort to exert political pressure on the U.S. central bank.”

Cain “has taken controversial positions with regard to the Fed and other policy issues, including a call to return the U.S. to a gold standard.” “Gold is kryptonite to big-spending politicians,” Cain wrote in a 2012 Wall Street Journal op-ed. “It is to the moochers and looters in government what sunlight and garlic are to vampires.”

WaPo columnist Catherine Rampell isn't a fan: "To put it bluntly: When it comes to understanding pretty basic policy issues, Cain isn't able."

Dimon speaks
JPMorgan Chase “is reviewing its role” in the U.S. mortgage business “given the current lack of reforms,” CEO Jamie Dimon said in his annual letter to shareholders. Dimon said bad mortgage rules were holding back economic growth and called on policymakers to reduce “onerous and unnecessary origination and servicing requirements” and to open up “the securitization markets for safe loans.”

He also said cyberattacks “may very well be the biggest threat to the U.S. financial system.”

American Banker's got a look at nine takeaways from the 54-page missive.

Dimon “actually spent much of 2018 weighing whether he should” run for president before deciding against it, CNBC reports. “With the Republican nomination unavailable and the leftward lean of the Democratic Party making the election of a Wall Street tycoon unlikely, Dimon begrudgingly decided that he would continue to serve his country from his current positions.”

Separately, the New York Times interviews Thasunda Brown Duckett, chief executive of the JPMorgan’s consumer banking unit and one of the most senior black women in finance. Duckett “has enjoyed a meteoric rise through corporate America.” After working through the ranks at Fannie Mae, where she started as a college intern, she joined JPMorgan in 2004. Her role before her current gig was CEO of Chase Auto Finance.

Another head rolls
Swedbank’s chairman, Lars Idermark, announced his resignation just a week after the Swedish bank’s CEO, Birgitte Bonnesen, was fired amid international probes into possible money laundering. Idermark said the spreading Swedbank scandal prevented him from performing his regular job of CEO of Sodra, a forest products processor. New York Times, Financial Times

Wall Street Journal

Confirmed
Along strict party lines, the Senate confirmed Mark Calabria, a critic of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, where he will oversee both mortgage agencies. “He is set to play a critical role reshaping the way many Americans finance their home purchases.”

Ready for takeoff
The Securities and Exchange Commission granted approval to TurnKey Jet to issue digital tokens, one of the few companies to pass muster. The reason: The tokens will be issued to people who sign up for the private jet company’s membership program and can be used to charter a private jet. The company “agreed that its tokens would only trade between members of the program and that it wouldn’t be able to buy them back at a premium.” As a result, they won’t circulate to the public and can’t be used to speculate like other cybercurrencies.

Elsewhere

Student banking fees disclosed
Students paid more than $27 million in fees for college-sponsored bank accounts during the 2016-2017 academic year, including overdraft and penalty charges, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The agency reviewed 573 colleges that had marketing agreements with banks. The report – which was recently obtained by advocacy groups through a Freedom of Information Act request – found that Wells Fargo charged students an average $47 a year, while PNC charged about $16. By comparison, the average American pays about $108 a year for their checking accounts.

Quotable

“I have recommended him highly for the Fed. I’ve told my folks, ‘That’s the man’.” — President Trump, announcing Herman Cain as his latest nominee to join the Federal Reserve Board.

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