U.S. Banks Steer Clear of Sensitive Customers (WSJ)
JP Morgan Chase & Co. has jettisoned more than 2,000 customers since the New York bank last year decided to reduce its exposure to businesses that could add to its long list of regulatory problems, according to a person familiar with the bank’s operations. Among other things, the bank has said it won’t lend to check-cashing companies and won’t process transactions or clear certain types of payments for some 500 foreign banks. J.P. Morgan also is cutting ties with a number of individual customers, from spouses of foreign leaders to people who have been indicted or convicted of a crime, said another person familiar with the lender’s policies. The bank dumped twice as many of these customers in 2013 as it did in 2012, the person said…The lack of banking services has been a big headache for Denver businessman Kayvan Khalatbari, co-owner of a medical marijuana dispensary and two pizza restaurants. He said he spent months last year wrestling with BBVA Compass after the regional, Texas-based bank dumped his accounts, including those associated with the pizza restaurants, an investment account and his personal account. BBVA Compass is a unit of Spanish lender Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA.
Obama Appeals for Action on Boosting Economic Mobility (Bloomberg)
Using executive authority to enact portions of an agenda that’s been stalled by Republicans, Obama said he’s raising the minimum wage to $10.10 for future federal contract workers while urging lawmakers to apply it to the rest of the nation. He also plans to create a retirement savings program for workers whose employers don’t offer a 401(k) plan.“The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by – let alone get ahead,” Obama said, in the text released by the White House. “Our job is to reverse these trends.” In all, the president announced a dozen actions that he said would help push against the economic forces that have left lower- and middle-income Americans still struggling to recover from the worst recession in more than seven decades. He also said he’s enlisting companies, including Apple Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., to help solve issues from expanding broadband in schools to hiring the long-term unemployed.
Bitter Medicine In Store For Activists (WSJ)
More than half of the poison pills adopted in 2013 are designed to be triggered when a holder gains a stake of 10%. In 2005, less than 8% of poison pills had a trigger of 10%, according to FactSet. “Pills are being carefully crafted with an activist in mind,” said Chris Cox, a Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft LLP lawyer who advises boards. More corporate poison pills also now explicitly include swaps, options and other financial products as part of an ownership stake. About 59% of poison pills adopted last year counted these derivatives, up from just 4% in 2008, according to FactSet.
JPMorgan Said Near Decision on $2 Billion Commodities Unit Sale (Bloomberg)
JP Morgan could fetch at least $2 billion for its physical commodities unit after the bank received bids from Blackstone Group LP (BX), Macquarie Group and Mercuria Energy Group Ltd., people with knowledge of the matter said.
Analyst who helped ‘short’ Herbalife exits Pershing Square (NYP)
Shane Dineen, the Pershing Square analyst who did much of the initial work on the firm’s controversial $1 billion Herbalife short, has left the hedge fund, according to a letter sent to investors Tuesday night. Because of Dineen’s prominent Herbalife role, the young analyst became a lightning rod for angry Herbalife investors. Particularly vicious rumors about his possible departure have permeated the blogosphere and Twitter for more than a month. “Shane is one of the most talented investment analysts I have ever worked with,” said Pershing Square founder Bill Ackman, who added that he had tried to get Dineen to stay and can return “if and when he decides to.”
Bitcoin Activists Speak Up (WSJ)
In the first of two days of hearings held by New York’s top banking supervisor on the topic, prominent bitcoin entrepreneurs such as Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss acknowledged potential benefits of setting certain rules on the industry but warned that too much regulation could stall innovation and send jobs overseas.
Real woman to quit her job during GoDaddy’s Super Bowl ad (Today)
During GoDaddy’s Super Bowl ad, a real woman will tell her boss “I quit” on national television, the company announced. For those among the over 100 million estimated viewers who’ve ever fantasized about telling their manager to “shove it,” but never had the guts, the ad will be their chance to experience it vicariously. The woman’s boss will find out along with the rest of the country during the big game. After the ad runs, she’ll send a formal resignation letter and give her two-week notice…[the Today Show] will interview the woman on the show the day after the big game to find out what was going through her head and why she decided to quit her job this way.
Ex-Charterhouse Partner ‘Rocked’ by $66 Million Pay Cut Proposal (Bloomberg)
Geoff Arbuthnott is suing Bonnyman and the 16 other owners of the London-based private-equity firm for trying to seize his stake for less than he says it’s worth. In the London trial today, Arbuthnott said his relationship with Bonnyman soured before he resigned in 2008. Bonnyman called Arbuthnott into his office in December 2006 to discuss his performance and carried interest, the share of a fund’s profits that private-equity partners receive as compensation. Arbuthnott said he was told that the other executives wanted to cut his share of profits in half from a fund which he estimated would have cost him as much as 40 million pounds. “I was rocked back on my heels,” Arbuthnott said. “I’m just getting mugged here,” he said he thought at the time. “There is no point trying to have a sensible conversation.”
JPMorgan Technology VP Dies in Fall From London Headquarters (Bloomberg)
A vice president in technology operations, Gabriel Magee, died after falling from JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s London headquarters, the bank said today. The 39-year-old fell from 25 Bank Street in the Canary Wharf area onto a ninth-floor roof, London’s Metropolitan Police said, having been called to the scene at 8:02 this morning. Magee had worked for JPMorgan since 2004 in the corporate and investment bank’s technology support department, the New York-based lender said in a statement.
Turkey Gets Aggressive On Rates (WSJ)
Turkey’s central bank unveiled emergency interest-rate hikes Tuesday in a move that outstripped market expectations and sent the lira roaring back, in a test case for other emerging markets battling plunging currencies. The central bank more than doubled its benchmark one-week lending rate for banks to 10% from 4.5%. At the same time, in an apparent effort to quell volatility and get banks to hold money longer, it shifted its primary lending to the weekly rate from its overnight rate of 7.75%, which it raised even higher. The effective difference for most lending—2.25%—is a major move for any central bank, though not as large as it initially appeared.
Nasdaq’s plan for cutting prices infuriates rivals (Reuters)
In late October, Nasdaq told U.S. regulators that it wanted to offer cheaper trading for customers of one of its options exchanges, if their total volume of trading with all three of Nasdaq’s options exchanges was substantial. Regulators balked. The Securities and Exchange Commission put the proposal on hold in November, and asked rivals and customers for comment. If approved, the Nasdaq plan could have far-reaching effects on competition, pricing and complexity in options and stock markets. Rivals claim it would end a level playing field by favoring larger exchange companies that run a number of different marketplaces over smaller players.
Washington moms to gather signatures to get R-rated baristas to cover up (NYDN)
Residents in Spokane, Wash., are in a froth over nearly nude baristas slinging java at R-rated sex-presso stands and they are taking their case to the city council. For months, a group of ticked-off moms has been butting heads with owners of the city’s bikini coffee shops over their workers’ barely there outfits, which sometimes consist of little more than body paint and G-strings. “People say things like, ‘It’s no different than what you’d see at the beach,’ but it absolutely is,” one of the moms, Kimberly Curry, told local KHQ-TV. “You don’t see girls with pasties or body paint or G-strings at the beach.” On Monday, the moms were dealt a slight setback when the Spokane City Council said they must collect more than 2,000 signatures before the council would consider putting their initiative on the ballot in November, according to local reports. Curry spearheaded the initiative with two friends, Hillary Van Akin and Beth Solscheid. The trio said they’re not interested in shutting down the shops — which have frisky names such as XXXtreme Espresso, Bare Beans and Devil’s Brew — only getting the girls to cover up a little more. “We feel like we’re being pretty reasonable,” Curry told KHQ-TV. “We’re not asking them to wear turtlenecks or anything like that. We’d just like them to wear bras or bikinis.”