Reuters blog archive

from Alison Frankel:

How a lone New York judge squeezed billions from banks in MBS cases

Asking a federal appeals court to step into the fray of an ongoing case to reverse a decision by a trial judge is extraordinary. Petitions for a writ of mandamus, as such requests are known, assert that trial judges have committed such egregious errors that their appellate overseers must undo the damage immediately, before the case gets to a final judgment. Mandamus petitions are a desperation move, a last resort when you've got nothing to lose from alienating a trial judge who's already ruled against you.

Last Thursday, RBS filed not one but three mandamus petitions at the 2nd, 9th and 10th circuits -- an apparently unprecedented response to what the bank claims is an unprecedented abdication of responsibility by trial judges presiding over cases brought by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

The suits, which involve billions of dollars in mortgage-backed securities purchased by failed credit unions, were filed in different federal districts, and the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation denied requests by bank defendants to consolidate them. But according to RBS, the trial judges took it upon themselves to streamline discovery, agreeing to abide by the rulings of a single "coordination judge."

Why does RBS, which had previously asked for the cases to be consolidated, now bitterly oppose coordinated discovery?

from Breakingviews:

Goldman chums return John Thain to semi-importance

By Antony Currie

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

John Thain is returning to significance with a little help from some former Goldman Sachs colleagues. Thain has been doing penance running lending minnow CIT for the past four years after serving as Merrill Lynch’s last boss. Now he’s spending $3.4 billion to buy OneWest Bank, which is owned by, among others, a gaggle of Goldman alums. The deal manages to bring CIT, and Thain, back into the club of systemically important financial institutions, if just barely.

from Global Markets Forum Dashboard:

The money’s in the bank: What financial institutions are not telling investors

The largest Wall Street investment banks reported good earnings this week, many beating analysts’ expectations, but the devil remains in the details.

Banks are in the middle of implementing global regulations designed to create a safer framework under which they operate and avoid an encore of 2008. Still, these financial institutions are not as forthcoming as they should be in disclosing key elements that would help measure their resilience, Mayra Rodríguez Valladares, managing principal of MRV Associates and a bank regulation expert told the Reuters Global Markets Forum during a LiveChat this week.

from Breakingviews:

U.S. cooks up penalties with anti-foreign flavor

By Reynolds Holding

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

Uncle Sam is cooking up penalties with an anti-foreign flavor. New research suggests that overseas firms like BNP Paribas do in fact pay bigger fines and plead guilty more often than U.S. companies. One reason may be that prosecutors target only the most serious cases abroad. But the differences feed suspicions that America is playing favorites.

from Alison Frankel:

SCOTUS Libor case, by itself, won’t revive antitrust claims

Don't get too excited about the news Monday that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of bond investors whose antitrust claims against the global banks involved in the Libor-setting process were tossed last year.

Untold billions of dollars are at stake in the Libor litigation, in which investors in all sorts of securities pegged to the London Interbank Offered Rate claim that the banks conspired to manipulate the interest rate benchmark. There are now about 60 cases consolidated in the Libor multidistrict litigation before U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan, asserting a potpourri of state and federal securities, racketeering and fraud claims as well as violations of federal antitrust laws. Last year, Judge Buchwald gave the bank defendants an almost priceless gift when she concluded that U.S. antitrust laws don't cover the sort of rate-rigging alleged in the Libor scandal because the banks' conduct wasn't anticompetitive. Buchwald has permitted other pieces of the litigation to move forward, most recently refusing to dismiss classwide unjust enrichment claims in an 80-page decision last week, but has refused to re-instate the big-money antitrust allegations, which offer the prospect of treble damages.

from Breakingviews:

Review: Rebooting banking – with Google’s help

 By Dominic Elliott

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Brett King may be, as his own author’s note claims, “the foremost global expert on retail banking innovation.” But his latest book is let down by an excess of acronyms and gushing advertorial.

from Breakingviews:

BNP’s chief operating officer retires. Next?

By Pierre Briançon

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.  

The only thing missing in the BNP Paribas release announcing the retirement of Chief Operating Officer Georges Chodron de Courcel is that he wanted a new challenge. Otherwise, it is business as usual at France’s largest bank: the long-serving No. 2 was planning to retire in September. He suddenly noticed that a new French law was putting a limit on the number of directorships he could hold, so in fact he will leave at the end of this month. U.S. probe, anyone? Sanctions violations? Multibillion-dollar fine?

from Breakingviews:

The morning after Scotland votes for independence

By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

Friday Sept. 19, 8.00 a.m. Staff at Royal Bank of Scotland’s Princes Street branch in central Edinburgh arrive for work, a tad bleary eyed. Some only had a few hours of sleep after partying until the wee hours, celebrating Scots’ historic vote to secede from the United Kingdom the previous day. Barely any whisky remains in the city’s bars; but RBS employees are about to discover something even worse. With customers starting to withdraw their deposits, barely any money may soon remain in Scottish banks.

from The Great Debate:

Secrecy’s out, so here’s what Swiss banks can still offer


If Swiss banks were to cast off their usual discretion and make a marketing pitch these days, it might start off something like this:

Dear Potential Client,

While we would be delighted to open an account and manage your money for you, once you’ve complied with our anti-money laundering provisions, please be advised that we will no longer be able to help you avoid taxes back home, and in fact may soon start providing account details to your national tax authorities. Moreover, if you are American, please stay away. We’ve been so beaten up by the Justice Department that we’d rather not take your money at all.

from Breakingviews:

Negative rates lost potency as ECB dithered

By Neil Unmack

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has been dangling negative rates over markets for over a year. In crisis times, a negative deposit rate would have been risky – but potentially powerful. Now the effect would be muted, but still tricky.