Diamond in Rough

Robert E. Diamond Jr. apparently held his own this week in a charity golf event in New York that featured the Barclays PLC president and three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson hitting golf balls off the flight deck of the USS Intrepid to a target in the Hudson River.

A Barclays spokesman said that Diamond hit the target "at least" three times, but wouldn't get anymore specific than that, explaining that tapes of the event had not yet been reviewed.

We're not sure how that stacks up to Mickelson's performance, but if you're not a golf professional, your day job has you primarily focused on a bank with 147,000 employees and 48 million customers, and you manage to nail a target at least three times from a windy spot on an aircraft carrier-turned-museum while your golf sponsorship partners look on, in our book you've held your own.

The "Chips for Charity" competition, tied to the Barclays golf tournament this weekend in northern New Jersey, netted a $50,000 donation from Barclays to the PGA Tour's "Birdies for the Brave," a program Mickelson helped launch to support injured troops.

No Salty Talk

David Lowman, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s global mortgage operation, is touchy about hearing the "F" word used to describe the government's efforts to help people ease mortgage payments.

"We don't think it's a failure. … We try to stay away from the failure word," Lowman said. "We've helped hundreds of thousands of people. The fact is it is helping a lot of people."

JPMorgan Chase released a report on Wednesday intended to illustrate that government initiatives have helped the company modify more than 900,000 mortgages since early 2009. About 29% of them have been reworked through a government initiative that helps people reduce monthly payments.

Lowman said the update was timed to complement a government report last week on the state of the housing industry. The report showed that about half the people that have enrolled in the government's main modification program dropped out because of problems proving eligibility.

Lowman said he's been mindful of critiques that such programs aren't working. "I would say there's a perception that not enough is being done," Lowman said.

His take: The programs were never intended for everybody, and they still aren't. But he said they're a lifeline for the people they were designed for: Those that want to stay in their homes, have income and need some help.

They are mitigating foreclosures, which reduces the glut of vacant homes.

He wouldn't say specifically how many of JPMorgan Chase's modified loans are redefaulting.

But: "They are performing better than we initially thought," Lowman said. "I think it speaks to the fact that the people that we're helping need the help and got the help."

Hello, Houston?

If Brian Moynihan is trying to send a signal to Wall Street, it hasn't worked so far.

Moynihan, who became Bank of America's chief executive in January, bought 30,000 shares of B of A stock Monday, spending $391,000, or $13.03 a share, according to a regulatory filing. With the purchase, he directly owns about 450,000 shares.

Typically, CEOs will make such purchases to signal a belief that the company's shares are undervalued. Instead, B of A stock hit a 52-week low a day after his purchase, falling to $12.64 a share.

Legal, Research

BB&T Corp. has named a new general counsel, Robert Johnson. He will also take over as corporate secretary and corporate governance officer on Wednesday, the company said.

He will succeed Frances Jones, who will remain with the Winston-Salem, N.C., company as its deputy general counsel and be based in Kentucky.

A BB&T spokeswoman said Jones opted for the move because she grew up in Louisville and "took the opportunity to move back there with her family."

Johnson is the company's deputy general counsel and manager of the corporate, securities and tax practice group.

Pablo Goldberg has been named global head of emerging markets research at HSBC Holdings PLC.

Goldberg joined HSBC in 2008 from then Merrill Lynch & Co., where he oversaw emerging markets debt research. He was most recently in charge of HSBC's Latin American fixed-income research.

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