Most people aren’t terribly excited about teaching computers how to do their jobs, but multi-million-dollar settlements after regulatory investigations seem like a pretty good motivator. IBM announced today that it’s buying Promontory Financial, a consultancy that came to represent some of the problems raised by the revolving door between regulators and Wall Street banks (it was founded by Eugene Ludwig, comptroller of the currency for the Clinton Administration). The company says it’ll build a machine-learning compliance platform, with Promontory’s staff training its Watson technology. Promontory’s recent regulatory history is the main reason this looks like a pretty good deal for them. Last year, the company was almost suspended indefinitely from consulting for New York-licensed banks suspected of wrongdoing. (It ended up getting cut to six months, with a $15 million fine.)
Is the central bank in the business of lending bank reserves for final and absolute settlement purposes, or is it now in the business of lending safe assets like Tbills for final and absolute settlement purposes?
Remember WMPs? The touchstones of China’s shadow market? The shadow market that China might actually be cracking down on … like for real this time … According to Credit Suisse, new regulatory guidelines or consultation papers about new regulations have been announced on almost a bi-weekly basis since May:
This is a prophecy brought to you by Citi: Over the past five years the incumbent UK domestic banks have managed to maintain and improve net interest margins. As asset yields have declined the banks have been able to respond via careful liability management, lowering savings rates and retiring expensive legacy wholesale funding issued during the financial crisis. We believe this positive trend is now set to stall and reverse. While banks will probably be able to mitigate the impact of lower rates over the next 6 months, we fear that beyond this net interest margins [NIMs] could fall sharply.
It’s almost five months since 11m private documents leaked out of a Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca. This guest post from Howard Bilton, chairman of off-shore advisory specialist The Sovereign Group, looks at the broader state of play for those looking to minimise their tax bills.
Post-Brexit sterling slump hits airline group IAG, Pearson revenues down, post-Brexit gloom at Foxtons. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by City Editor Jonathan Guthrie, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here.
Everybody knows much of the City of London was vehemently opposed to Brexit because of fears of what might happen to banks’ interests if so-called “passporting” rights into and out of the European system were lost. What is less talked about, however, is Brexit’s impact on the European payments clearing system, Target2 — and how the passporting issue connects by way of Target2 to the realm of sovereign monetary policy. At the absolute heart of the matter is the status and treatment of payment systems worldwide, and whether or not they can really be treated as something independent and thus distinct from national monetary policy (and hence open to commercial competition) — or as integral to sovereign interests.
One interesting quirk of the post-Brexit market mess has been the lack of any mad dash for emergency dollar liquidity — so far, at least. Since the referendum, the use of the Federal Reserve’s foreign-exchange swap facilities, meant to help global banks in need of dollar funding, has been “dwarfed” by previous periods of global market stress, according to a Tuesday note from Citigroup analysts.
Theresa May has become the UK prime minister, and the internet — in the style of looking up what the EU is only after the Referendum — is only now alive with articles/tweets about who exactly Theresa May is. Indeed, amusingly enough, whilst a lot was being made of Andrea Leadsom’s “City” credentials, there was almost no word in the run up to the appointment of May’s own City credentials.
From the Bank of England’s latest Financial Stability Report: The FPC reduced the UK countercyclical capital buffer rate from 0.5% to 0% of banks’ UK exposures with immediate effect (see Box 1). Absent any material change in the outlook, and given the need to give banks the clarity necessary to facilitate their capital planning, the FPC expects to maintain a 0% UK countercyclical capital buffer rate until at least June 2017. This action reinforces the FPC’s expectation that all elements of the substantial capital and liquidity buffers that have been built up by banks are able to be drawn on, as necessary. It will reduce regulatory capital buffers by £5.7 billion, raising banks’ capacity for lending to UK households and businesses by up to £150 billion. Do click through for the full thing:
To lose one co-founder and chief technology officer may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness. Last year, Starling Bank’s future was thrown into doubt when Tom Blomfield, a co-founder and then CTO, left the startup digital-only bank along with three of its senior management. At the time, the FT reported that they left “following friction with chief executive Anne Boden”, who was previously chief operating officer at Allied Irish Banks. Blomfield went on to found Mondo, a rival startup bank. Now Starling, which was founded in 2014, has lost another CTO, Mark Hipperson, who was head of technology at Barclays corporate bank in the 90s. Hipperson left the startup last month, according to his LinkedIn, which also suggests the company has finally secured its banking license. When contacted, he said: “We had a disagreement on the way forward and I therefore decided I would resign.”
Day two of post-Brexit trading and… bank stocks are being suspended. So not a great start and it’s a sign that whatever market-stabilising powers UK chancellor George Osborne once had have been diminished. In fairness, though, he’s trying to calm a hurricane that will leave the banking sector stuck in low interest rate purgatory for even longer than expected. As per David Lock and Atul Hanamante at Deutsche Bank, with our emphasis:
‘Passporting’, per Citi, “allows financial institutions incorporated in one member state to establish branches in other member state and provide cross-border services to clients.” The fact that system now most probably needs to be renegotiated — where once there was cohesion, now there is confusion — is bad news for UK banks and the EU/ US banks that operate out of London. It’s why they say things like, “in all likelihood we would ”. They being Goldman there in 2013 but whatever, the risk is obviously real. So how would it all work?