Thing One: Let's Settle This In Private: British officials are hoping they can convince Washington regulators to settle this whole U.K.-bank-laundering-money-to-Iran thing discreetly. George Osborne, Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, spoke to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner once on Tuesday and twice on Wednesday to express his concern over a New York state probe into allegations that Standard Chartered Bank hid $250 billion worth of illegal transactions tied to Iran, according to the Financial Times.
After JPMorgan’s huge trading loss and investigations into Libor rigging, it’s no wonder British officials are a little bit worried about London’s reputation, as the FT reports. Lucky for Osborne, Geithner may be sympathetic to his concerns. You see, Geithner’s Treasury, the Federal Reserve and other regulators may disagree with the course the New York State Department of Financial Services is taking in probing the Standard Chartered allegations, which include threats to revoke the bank’s New York license, according to the Wall Street Journal.
That might be because their usual course is to let the banks get away with whatever they want. In fact, some in Washington and London have criticized the approach of Benjamin Lawsky, New York’s top banking regulator, saying he’s only going after Standard Chartered for political gain, according to The New York Times. Not so surprisingly, the Standard Chartered’s CEO says Lawsky has “no grounds” for revoking the bank’s license, according to Bloomberg.
Thing Two: Libor Overhaul: Banks are now looking for a more, um, “scientific” way to calculate Libor than just setting it how they please, Martin Wheatley, the managing director of the Financial Services Authority, told Bloomberg in an interview Thursday. The Libor panel, which includes leaders from Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland -- banks that have been implicated in the Libor scandal -- are considering options like using a “trade reporting mechanism” to determine the rate, based on, you know, actual data.
Meanwhile, in a speech in London Friday, Wheatley offered a set of proposals to overhaul Libor, noting that in some cases it may be appropriate to use an alternative benchmark rate and in other cases to just calculate Libor differently, according to Reuters. Other proposals include setting Libor based on actual trades instead of more subjective judgments. The order for Wheatley's review came after Barclays paid its $450 million fine for rigging Libor.
Thing Three: Goldman Off The Hook: Well, it looks like regulators’ habit of letting Wall Street get off scott-free for the financial crisis isn’t letting up anytime soon. The Justice Department won’t bring charges against Goldman Sachs over claims the bank defrauded clients during the mortgage crisis, according to the Wall Street Journal. After a yearlong investigation into allegations detailed in a 2011 Senate report that Goldman employees pushed clients to buy securitized mortgages that they privately described as “crap,” the Justice Department said it doesn’t have enough proof to prosecute Goldman criminally.
Goldman also has another reason to breathe a sigh of relief. The bank announced Thursday that the SEC dropped its probe into the bank's role in selling $1.3 billion worth of subprime mortgage securities.
The pair of announcements are obviously good news for Goldman, who will escape the financial crisis relatively unscathed when it comes to fines and charges, despite its Vampire Squid reputation. But they’re cause for concern for regulators hoping to bring financial crisis-related charges against a major bank or executive as the deadline for filing cases looms, according to The New York Times.
Thing Four: London Whale Not Yet Harpooned: JPMorgan Chase just can’t escape that London Whale. The bank said in a filing Thursday that it lost money on 28 trading days last quarter and postponed a plan to resume share buybacks, according to the Wall Street Journal. In addition, regulators requested that the bank hack off some of its reported capital levels for the first half of the year because of concerns over the way JPMorgan measures risk coming out of the office responsible for the London Whale loss and in other areas of the bank, according to the Financial Times.
Thing Five: Google Slapped On Wrist: Apparently the feds aren’t letting Google get away with being creepy. That’s right, the Federal Trade Commission slapped the search engine with a $22.5 million fine -- the largest in the agency’s history -- for bypassing users’ privacy settings on the Safari web browser so that it could display targeted ads.
Regardless, the $22.5 million fine is a drop in the bucket for Google, which brought in more than $37 billion last year, as the Wall Street Journal notes. Still, the FTC says the fine will show companies that it takes privacy violations seriously. Kind of.
Thing Six: Mortgage Help On The Way: Good news! It may get a bit harder for banks to foreclose on your home. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is expected to propose new rules today that would require loan-servicers to evaluate an application for loan assistance within 30 days of receiving it, and would ban loan-servicers from foreclosing on a home before reaching a decision on the application for help, according to the Wall Street Journal. And what with loan servicers having to follow rules when they provide home loans, the business may become less profitable, leading big banks to scale back their mortgage arms.
Thing Seven: No GOAAALLL: Famed soccer team Manchester United is set to make its public trading debut today and it seems that just like Americans, investors aren't that interested in soccer. Shares in the soccer club are set to be priced at $14, below the bottom range the club was seeking, according to Bloomberg. The disappointing debut indicates that even a marquee 134-year-old team isn’t enough to attract investors to the world’s most popular sport, according to Reuters. Maybe they just need to bring back Beckham.
Thing Seven And One Half: We've Found The Best Athlete Or At Least Interviewer Ever: Guys, don’t worry, the question of who is the greatest athlete ever is now settled. After winning the gold medal in the 200 meters, Jamaican track phenom Usian Bolt noted humbly “I'm now a legend. I'm also the greatest athlete to live,” according to The New York Times. As the first person ever to win gold in both the 100 m and 200 m twice we can consider taking him at his word.
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Calendar Du Jour:
J. C. Penney
Heard On The Tweets:
@pkedrosky: I like how Best Buy just can't seem to stay saved. It's the Greece of consumer electronics.
@zerohedge: Why is the guy on CNBC badmouthing the megabank-space station-cloud server-game designer-book shelf-pet groomer-battleship known as Amazon?
@CharlesJenkins7: Lord help the people who think unemployed is a cool career.
@Queen_UK: One's realms have collected 38 golds, putting one top of the table. Clearly, having one as Queen is a sporting advantage. #olympics
-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.And you can follow us on Twitter, too: @markgongloff and @byKhadeeja