Even before the opening bell in New York, Thursday looked like a grim day for some of the giants of global banking.
But few expected the barrage of bad news that soon hit on both sides of the Atlantic — a rat-a-tat-tat of job cuts, scandal and financial worry that sent bank shares tumbling and left many investors wondering just where or when the pain would end.
It began in Germany, where long-struggling Commerzbank AG unveiled yet another plan to regain its footing, this time by cutting one in five of its employees. In Washington, came still more blistering attacks on John Stumpf, whose grip atop embattled Wells Fargo & Co., the largest U.S. mortgage lender, remains tenuous amid the uproar over a scandal involving unauthorized accounts.
And then, back in Germany, came the bombshell: revelations that some hedge funds were moving to reduce their financial exposure to Deutsche Bank, now the biggest worry in global finance. Before Stumpf left the U.S. House chambers after more than four hours of grilling, news broke his bank would be hit with more penalties after improperly repossessing cars owned by U.S. soldiers.
While each has unique challenges, the overwhelming thing that has happened to the banks is theyre forgetting their purpose, while complexity is increasing opportunity for errors, said Jon Lukomnik, executive director of the Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute in New York.
Eight years after the financial crisis, the global banking industry is groping for a way forward. Global regulators have sought to make banks look more like boring utilities, but that road has proven steep. Emboldened by an international populist groundswell, they continue to dole out fines and penalties, and firms are scrambling for ways to make money as trading volumes decline and capital requirements become more stringent.
The 38-company Bloomberg Europe Banks and Financial Services Index has tumbled 24 percent this year, while the KBW Bank Index of 24 U.S. lenders has slid 4.6 percent, led by Wells Fargos 18 percent decline.
In the past 10 days, Stumpf has agreed to forgo $41 million in compensation, and an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan glibly suggested on Twitter that Turkey buy Deutsche Bank as its market value fell by more than half this year. The German lender is now barely worth more than the $14 billion settlement the U.S. Department of Justice would like to extract in a long-running investigation of the banks mortgage securities business.
Commerzbank Chief Executive Officer Martin Zielke announced plans Thursday to eliminate 9,600 jobs, leaving it no bigger than it was before its 2008 acquisition of Dresdner Bank. The Frankfurt-based bank has lost about 39 percent of its market value this year.
Germany is still overbanked, and its tough to have Germany as your home base when you want to compete with French, Spanish or American peers that operate in less fragmented home markets, said Klaus Fleischer, a professor of finance at the University of Applied Sciences in Munich.
Wells Fargo agreed to pay more than $24 million to the Justice Department and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to settle allegations that it improperly repossessed cars owned by members of the military.
I dont personally see how you survive, Representative Denny Heck, a Washington Democrat, told Stumpf Thursday as the 63-year-old CEO testified before the House Financial Services Committee.
Lawmakers called for Stumpf to be fired, for Wells Fargos board to be replaced and for the bank to be broken up.
Your problem is coming, Representative Mike Capuano, a Massachusetts Democrat, told Stumpf at the hearings. You think today is tough? Its coming. When the prosecutors get ahold of you, youre going to have a lot of fun.”
As the hearing was under way, news broke that some of Deutsche Banks clients were said to be reducing their collateral on trades, sending its New York-listed shares down as much as 9.1 percent. Earlier this week, CEO John Cryan was forced to shoot down speculation the bank needs more capital and may require a bailout, as its shares touch record lows and a U.S. litigation settlement looms.
Our trading clients are amongst the worlds most sophisticated investors, Michael Golden, a spokesman for Deutsche Bank, said in an e-mailed statement. We are confident that the vast majority of them have a full understanding of our stable financial position, the current macroeconomic environment, the litigation process in the U.S. and the progress we are making with our strategy.Continue reading
Stop slamming fashion bloggers â they're smarter than you think
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Blogging The Boys (blog)
Lucky Whitehead's dog was kidnapped, held for ransom, and then thankfully brought home
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Blogging The Boys Blogging The Boys, a Dallas Cowboys fan community. Log In or Sign Up · Log In · Sign Up · Fanposts · Fanshots · Sections; Library; Cowboys · Odds · Shop · About · Masthead · Community Guidelines · StubHub; More. All 319 blogs on.
Preteens, get ready:Kylie is releasing her new lip colors this week. So if you take lip stick advice from someone who didn’t have an upper lip until a couple years ago, it’s a pretty BFD. They’re for her “nude palette,” making her the first Kardashian-Jenner woman to make money from nudes that don’t involve her being naked.
The three new shades are Maliboo, and Ginger, which will join Exposed and Dolce. Maliboo will go on sale July 20th, while Ginger won’t be available until 2 days later, because Kylie wants all your shipping money. How upset is Kristin Cavallari that she didn’t say “Maliboo” on every episode of ? Tbh both of those colors look like a drunk bruise a couple days after you fall walking home from a bar. But they’re way better than the fugly blue Skylie.
Either way this shit’s going to be gone in .3 seconds so get your credit card ready at your keyboard just in case, and may be odds be ever in your favor.
Bernie Sanders’ financial reform plan is chock-full of clear goals, even if it’s not always clear whether he can actually achieve them. He wants to break up the big banks. He wants to send financial fraudsters to prison. He wants to put a cap on ATM fees. And he wants to turn the country’s credit rating agencies into nonprofits.
The push to overhaul the rating agencies is one of the wonkier proposals to come from the Vermont senator. Why reform credit rating agencies? Despite what their name implies, these companies, such as Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, are private, for-profit businesses that make money evaluating how risky debt is.
The problem is that they were spectacularly bad at evaluating risk when it came to the junk mortgage debt that triggered the financial crisis. Tens of thousands of mortgage securities were given triple-A ratings in the runup to the crisis, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission found. At the same time, there were only six triple-A-rated companies.
Of course, the rating agencies weren’t the only parties that got it disastrously wrong on housing-related debt. They do, however, have a very specific conflict of interest: They are paid by the issuers of the debt, but they provide their services to the investors in the debt.
As a result, the rating agencies’ business model includes a built-in incentive to produce shiny ratings that make issuers happy. And in the case of mortgage securities, those issuers were the banks.
Sanders’ proposal is to change that business model — to make it, in fact, not a for-profit business model at all.
Investors would not have bought the risky mortgage backed derivatives that led to the Great Recession if credit agencies did not give these worthless financial products triple-A ratings — ratings that they knew were bogus.
And, the reason these risky financial schemes were given such favorable ratings is simple. Wall Street paid for them.
Under my administration, we will turn for-profit credit rating agencies into non-profit institutions, independent from Wall Street. No longer will Wall Street be able to pick and choose which credit agency will rate their products.
Take away the profit motive, the thinking goes, and the rating agencies will produce fairer assessments of risk for investors.
The strong implication is that under this plan, the banks and companies won’t pay for the debt they issue to be rated. This is called the “issuer pays” model. The Sanders campaign did not respond to questions about who would pay and other specifics of the plan.
And so, the question is: If the issuers aren’t going to pay for the credit ratings, then who is? Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has a plan to randomly assign ratings work to different companies. Under this plan, the more accurately a company rates the riskiness of the debt it’s assigned, the more business it gets. The issuer still pays, but the incentives are changed.
Or Sanders could try to make debt markets more like equity markets, where there are lots of analysts putting ratings on stocks. There is tension inherent in that model for stock research, and there have been glaring conflicts exposed in the past, but on the whole, because there are so many stock analysts, the individual stock ratings by themselves have very limited power.
There’s also the question of why investors, who were harmed by the rating agencies’ bad work, haven’t taken it upon themselves to solve this issue. After the financial crisis, you might have expected a critical mass of pension funds and other investors not just suing credit rating agencies, but demanding that the agencies eliminate the conflict of interest by paying for their own credit ratings, rather than relying on the people issuing the debt to foot the bill. It didn’t happen.
Maybe that’s because big investors are expense-obsessed right now, largely for good reasons. Or maybe it’s just logistically easier for the seller of the debt to pay for the rating. After all, while a single debt security can have thousands of potential buyers, it’s only got one issuer.
But the trickier issue is that paying directly for ratings would require big investors to take more immediate responsibility for what they buy — rather than just gobbling up anything with the right letters of the alphabet slapped on it, and blaming someone else when it turns out to be worthless.Continue reading
Amazons Alexa voice platform has now passed 15,000 skills the voice-powered apps that run on devices like the Echo speaker, Echo Dot, newer Echo Show and others. The figure is up from the 10,000 skills Amazon officially announced back in February, which had then represented a 3x increase from September.
The new 15,000 figure was first reported via third-party analysis from Voicebot, and Amazon has now confirmed to TechCrunch that the number is accurate.
According to Voicebot, which only analyzed skills in the U.S., the milestone was reached for the first time on June 30, 2017. During the month of June, new skill introductions increased by 23 percent, up from the less than 10 percent growth that was seen in each of the prior three months.
The milestone also represents a more than doubling of the number of skills that were available at the beginning of the year, when Voicebotreported there were then 7,000 skills. That number wasofficially confirmed by Amazon at CES.
Voicebot also noted that Flash Briefings are still one of the most popular categories of skills, in terms of those that are live on the Alexa Skill Store today. These news and information-focused voice apps include those from major media publications like The Wall St. Journal, NPR, Washington Post (ahem, TechCrunch), and others.
Because theyre one of the easiest skills to develop, Flash Briefings have grown to account for around 20 percent of the available skills. You can see this figure for yourself here on the Alexa Skills store, which indicates there are2,891 news skills live now.
The number of available skills is an important metric for tracking Amazons success in the voice computing space.
Amazon is currently the leader in voice-powered devices, where its expected to control 70 percent of the market this year well ahead of Google Home, Lenovo, LG and others. If anything, its success played a role in Apple releasing its own Siri-powered device, the HomePod.Apples entrant aims to capture a portion of the market by attracting those who care more about the speakers quality than the virtual assistant that ships with it. But one thing Apple is not talking about yet is whether third-party developers will be able to create HomePod-compatible apps.
In the meantime, Amazons Alexa is surging ahead, building out an entire voice app ecosystem so quickly that it hasnt even been able to implement the usual safeguards like a team that closely inspects apps for terms of service violations, for example, or even tools that allow developers to make money from their creations. (For now, Amazon is simply handing out cash rewards to those building popular game skills a category it sees has some early traction.)
In the long run, Amazons focus on growth over app ecosystem infrastructure could catch up with it. But for now, its Alexa platform ismuch further ahead than its nearest competitor. Though Google Home saw a spike from holiday sales, its the Echo Dot thats being adopted in droves thanks to its lower price point.
In addition, Google Home has just 378 voice apps available as of June 30, Voicebot notes. Microsofts Cortana has only 65.
While theres been some criticism that many of Amazons skills are low-quality, theres also something to be said for being able to build out an app stores long tail. Maybe not all the skills are as useful as getting your daily dose of NPR or being able to order an Uber by voice, but having more than 15,000 to choose from means you have a better shot at finding one that will suit your needs.
Image credits top: Adobe; chart: VoicebotContinue reading
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