It seems that a few boutique mortgage lenders are playing a little fast and loose with the rules they agreed to follow when they agreed to pay $25 billion to get the government to leave them alone. Read more »
Banks Not Exactly Living Up To Terms Of Mortgage Settlement No Reason To Think That Said Settlement Isn’t Working, Settlement Authors SayBy Jon Shazar
Feel free to exchange exultations, insults and sour-grape rationalizations below. Read more »
Once upon a time, Blanche Lincoln was a United States Senator from Arkansas, which is no longer as friendly to Democrats as it was when she was first elected in 1998. So, facing a tough re-election battle in 2010, she pushed hard for a seemingly ill-advised rule forcing banks to hive off some of their swaps trading, believing that it would put her over the top.
It didn’t, and she got trounced. Now, Blanche Lincoln is no longer a U.S. Senator, but her swaps push-out rule survives as part of the Dodd-Frank law, much to everyone’s unhappiness. So everyone’s getting together to agree to put off actually enforcing it for a while. Read more »
- if a majority of shareholders vote in favor of the nonbinding proposal to strip him of his role as chairman of the board, and
- he remains chairman of the board, then
- he’s probably too powerful!
Let’s find out!
Honestly, who cares who cares who cares who cares if JPMorgan’s board has an independent Chairman or just an independent Presiding Director? The board’s job is to keep an eye on Jamie; if it failed to do that then giving it a fancy new title doesn’t seem likely to improve performance. Is it your impression that Jamie Dimon, who apparently rides roughshod over pissant Presiding Directors,1 will nonetheless be meek and subservient when faced with a Chairman?
Discussion about this proposal is confused because some people think that having an independent chairman is a good thing in all circumstances, or at least say they do; CalPERs’s governance czar, for instance, believes that “There’s a fundamental conflict in combining the roles of chairman and C.E.O.” and so CalPERS will vote to split the roles at JPMorgan just as they did last year. Others think that, y’know, it depends on the people. The people here would presumably remain the same though there’s some rumbling that Dimon would take his toys and go home if he couldn’t be chairman too.
Outside of CalPERS, though, the universal-good-governance theory doesn’t seem to move anyone much. Here, if you’re interested, are JPMorgan’s top 20 shareholders: Read more »
Yesterday Citi sued Barclays over an indemnity that Barclays gave Citi during the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and while, yes, the lawsuit is boring in the way that only lawsuits over indemnities can be, I’m nonetheless going to tell you about it under the heading “laugh at Citi doing stupid stuff.” The stupid stuff here is roughly:
- Citi was the clearing bank for Lehman Brothers FX trades, with gross exposures in the tens of billions of dollars.1
- Lehman ran into some trouble in September 2008, as you may have heard.
- On September 9, 2008, one week before Lehman’s bankruptcy filing, Citi decided it might be a good idea to get some security for its Lehman FX clearing exposure, in the form of getting set-off rights against $2 billion that Lehman Brothers Holdings (the public parent company) had on deposit at Citi.
- On September 15, 2008, after Lehman Brothers Holdings had filed for bankruptcy, Citi decided that it might not be a good idea to continue extending credit to Lehman Brothers Inc. (the non-bankrupt broker-dealer subsidiary) and so terminated its FX clearing arrangement.
- Lehman Brothers Inc. begged Citi to reconsider, and Citi agreed to provide basically two more days of clearing (through September 17) in exchange for $1 billion of new collateral posted by Lehman.
- Lehman Brothers Inc. continued to not pay Citi amounts that it owed.
- So Citi again stopped clearing for Lehman.
- This time Barclays, which had agreed to purchase the Lehman U.S. broker-dealer operations, begged Citi to reconsider, and Citi agreed to provide basically two more days of clearing (through September 19) in exchange for $700mm in new collateral posted by Barclays.
- Lehman Brothers Inc. again continued to not pay Citi amounts that it owed, and was placed into SIPC liquidation on September 19.
- Citi again stopped clearing for Lehman, for real this time, and closed out its positions at a loss of something like $1,260mm.
- It set off $1bn of these losses against the collateral posted by Lehman.
- Then Barclays called Citi, in October 2008, and asked if it could have its $700mm of collateral back.
- Citi said yes!2 Read more »
- Regulators are conservative and dumb, and want to safeguard banks from bad risks even at the cost of preventing good risks,
- Bankers are aggressive and smart, and want to take lots of good risks even at the cost of taking some bad risks, and
- Sometimes bankers can find people to put up with their shit and sometimes they can’t.
“Put up with their shit” is meant in the broadest sense – Can banks defeat Dodd-Frank? Brown-Vitter? Is Lloyd Blankfein a hero or a villain? Jamie Dimon? Etc. – but one particularly interesting question is, if you’re trying to do trades that evade or bend or optimize or whatever regulation, will someone do those trades with you? You could write a history of recent finance with the answer to that question: in 2007 you could chuck all of your mortgage risk off-balance sheet via securitizations, in 2008 you … could not, and in 2013 if you’re looking for someone to provide regulatory capital relief all you have to do is call a Regulatory Capital Relief Fund. Six years peak-to-peak, same as the S&P.
You could probably use words like “bubble” in characterizing that cycle but I prefer the approach taken in this new NBER paper by Guillermo Ordoñez of Penn (free version here), both because it mathematically formalizes that basic model of regulation and counter-regulation in an interesting way, and because it is congenially cynical. As he puts it, “banks can always find ways around regulation when self-regulation becomes feasible, and it is indeed efficient for them to do so.” Bankers, of course, always think that it would be efficient for them to find ways around regulation. They only do so when they can find someone to trade with them. Read more »
Former Credit Suisse VP Who Spent Her Vacation At The Office Past Midnight Will Fit Right In At Goldman SachsBy Matt Levine
We don’t have her side of the story yet but from what her enemies say about her I like Agostina Pechi’s style. Pechi is the former Credit Suisse emerging markets sales VP who quit to go to Goldman and whom CS is now suing because she (allegedly) took a bunch of secret stuff with her when she left. Also because she (allegedly) did this:
[B]eginning in February 2013, Pechi represented to her manager as well as other senior group management that [a certain] client’s interest in this and other private transactions was flagging. Credit Suisse scheduled in-person meetings with the client in an effort to revive interest in the deals.
Pechi was deliberately evasive with management regarding the status of those meetings and whether high-level decision-makers on behalf of the client would attend. Based upon Pechi’s representations, senior Credit Suisse employees did not meet with the client.
However, as Credit Suisse later discovered, Pechi attended two meetings with representatives of the client, at least one of which was attended by high-level decision-makers on behalf of the client, as part of the above-referenced private transactions.
Upon information and belief, Pechi held these in-person meetings in an effort to shore up her relationship with the client in preparation for her departure and to explicitly discuss moving its business to Pechi’s new firm.