After spending his first six months on the job speaking about cultural change at scandal-plagued Barclays PLC, Chief Executive Officer Antony Jenkins on Tuesday will unveil a plan that is expected to leave the bank’s strategy largely intact, according to people briefed on the matter.
But wait! Barclays can change in all the ways that it thinks matter to you and the British government, if not to its shareholders. Read more »
It’s getting to be a struggle to be amused by Libor manipulation chats. RBS took its lumps today, and the CFTC and FSA orders are full of quotes, and you can read them in variousround-ups, but, meh. Even Bart Chilton is bored; today’s imagery (“sends a signal to those who would monkey around with benchmark rates … much more than a slap on the wrist …”) is a letdown after his UBS masterpiece (“Financial sector violations are hurtling toward us like a spaceship moving through the stars”) just a few weeks ago. I get it! Everyone manipulated Libor! In writing! And then they were like “heh, fukin awexome man, u manipluated libor, gud work, i sexx u now, w champain.” Fabulous.1
Part of why RBS provides less delight than its predecessor Libor-settlers is that RBS made use of the oldest and most reliable way to avoid typos: not typing. From the CFTC order: Read more »
Mr. Jenkins and the firm’s chairman, David Walker, told politicians on Tuesday that they were prioritizing ethics and reducing risky trading activity, adding that they would take responsibility if future problems were discovered at the bank. The Barclays’ chief, who agreed to forgo his bonus in response to the series of scandals that have hit Barclays in recent years, said he would resign if another scandal was uncovered while he was leading the bank. “The chief executive is responsible for what happens during their tenure and when incidents happen the price needs to be paid and I believe were I to find myself in that position I would do the right thing,” Mr. Jenkins said on Tuesday. When politicians asked Mr. Jenkins if he was eradicating the culture that he inherited from his predecessor Robert E. Diamond Jr., Barclays’ new chief said he was indeed “shredding that legacy” of sometimes being “too self-centered and too aggressive.” [Dealbook, related]
We’ve talked a lot about bank capital today but there’s still time for one quick addendum. First, though, two rough-and-ready equations:
Capital = cash paid in by shareholders plus retained earnings
Capital ratio = capital divided by assets
The first equation explains my puzzlement at the claim that Deutsche Bank “book[ed] a loss to boost its capital ratio without selling shares;” it’s arithmetically impossible to boost your capital by losing money, though you can (separately) boost your capital ratio by fiddling with the denominator.
The important thing about the second equation is that, for banks, the ratio is well under 1. So if your capital ratio is a relatively robust 10%, that means that 90% of your total assets are funded with borrowed money, and 10% are funded with cash from shareholders and retained earnings. Some people dislike this system.
Anyway there are various semi-magical ways to monkey with the denominator but there is one simple and obvious way to monkey with the numerator – the actual amount of capital that you have – and it is this:
Take some money,
dress it up in a fancy costume, and
issue some new shares to the the now-cleverly-disguised money.
You have magically transformed Assets (money) – which, remember, are 90%+ funded with borrowed money – into Capital. This has perpetual-motion-machine properties,1 so it’s pretty good.
Also it is, like, wildly wildly wildly illegal. Or, I mean, it’s pretty illegal as I just outlined it above, but if you put a fancy enough costume on the money maybe that makes it okay.2 Anyway draw your own conclusions about this: Read more »