Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Occupy Somewhere Else (for a While): Police in New York cleared Zuccotti Park, the site of the Occupy Wall Street protests, in a surprise raid Tuesday morning. The demonstrators were told the move was temporary and they could return later, but if and when they do the structures they erected to keep warm (illegal fire hazards, according to authorities) will be gone. The Post quotes a sanitation worker as saying, “We’re gonna disinfect the hell out of this place.” (Oh, that’s the New York Post, if you were wondering.) The tabloid has an accompanying editorial entitled “Time’s Up, Children.” Hmm, maybe we’re reading too much into the nuanced writing, but we’re beginning to think maybe the Post doesn’t hold the protestors in high regard? We went to the Village Voice site for a different perspective and found some news we might use (“Occupy Wall Street Vows to Shut Down Subways” – aw jeez, please don’t) and a Tweet that demonstrates 140 characters can convey a lot (“Me: 'I'm press!' Lady cop: 'Not tonight.'”) OK, we’d better get back to banking now… Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New York Post, Daily News (New York), Financial Times
Auf Wiedersehen: Josef Ackermann, the CEO of Deutsche Bank for the past decade and “one of the world's most powerful bankers” according to the Journal, said Monday he will leave the institution in May when his contract expires, rather than pursue the chairman’s seat. In July, the bank had announced two of his lieutenants would succeed him as co-CEOs. Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Times
UBS Makes It Official: Sergio Ermotti, who’s been the Swiss bank’s interim leader since Oswald Grubel stepped down in September following a $2 billion loss by an alleged rogue trader, was appointed permanent CEO. Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times
Chinese Banking: Bank of America plans to shed more of its stake in China Construction Bank; JPMorgan Chase is investing $200 million to create a guarantor of loans to small Chinese firms; the Chinese central bank appears to be “providing some relief for cash-strapped smaller banks” (although this is educated guesswork about an institution that makes our Fed look like a paragon of transparency); and the IMF has called for a revamp of China’s banking sector, which the agency says still relies too much on the state for direction and is prone to creating asset bubbles. And that’s just what’s in the Journal. In the bigger picture, all of this follows President Obama’s tough talk at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, where, according to Reuters, he declared that China, “which often presents itself as a developing country, is now ‘grown up’ and should act that way in global economic affairs.”
Wall Street Journal
The Journal has obtained an advance copy of the FHA’s annual independent audit, due out today, and it turns out the report says there’s a “close to 50%” chance the agency will need a taxpayer bailout in the next year. We recall that “people familiar with the matter” told the Journal last week that the audit was “likely to show that while losses are rising, it will maintain positive reserves assuming the economy doesn't dip back into recession.” (Undoubtedly these brave souls requested anonymity because they were risking their livelihoods and careers by whispering to a reporter the classified, top-secret, potentially incendiary information that everything was basically okay.) But according to today’s story, the auditor says there’s a near-even probability that home values will dip another 9% next year – which would leave the FHA in need of $13 billion from the Treasury.
The IMF “appears to have has lost its way and its influence,” writes William Rhodes, a retired globetrotting Citi exec, in an op-ed. It’s been a relatively ineffectual player in the eurozone crisis and the Arab Spring, he says, and needs to secure more resources and to reassert its independence from politicians.
New York Times
Credit Suisse told employees that it will defer less of their compensation to future years. “The move appears to run contrary to a push by regulators around the world to have more compensation at banks deferred, a[n] initiative aimed at reducing unnecessary risk-taking.” To be fair, the Swiss bank “had previously deferred compensation more than many of its competitors,” and its memo said that “this modification brings the firm more in line with ... its competitors.” But what happened to the exemplary “Swiss finish”?
Barclays is climbing the M&A advisory league tables with the help of what an investment banker, the leader of a team the British bank picked up from Lehman Brothers, calls “a big-boy checkbook” that can finance deals.
In the email version of yesterday’s Scan, the section about student loans understated the amount by which defaults for the 2010-2011 graduating classes are expected to exceed the historical norm. It’s 10 to 15 percentage points, according to the analyst quoted in the Journal – not basis points, as we wrote. Obviously, we need a remedial math course. (NYU offers one? Great! It costs how much? We’ll be how old before it’s all paid off? Never mind.)
Yesterday’s email also inadvertently omitted a link to the New York magazine story on Mitt Romney. You can find it right here.