Cox: Banking ghosts haunt Clinton in Philadelphia

By Rob Cox
July 28, 2016

Long before Donald Trump upended politics by excoriating the establishment, Andrew Jackson attacked a pillar of the City of Brotherly Love: the Second Bank. It got him re-elected and firmly established the Democratic Party, whose candidate is now threatened by a similar campaign.

Review: Blockchain hopes go well beyond finance

June 10, 2016

The distributed-ledger concept is linked to the bitcoin cryptocurrency, and more recently potential financial uses have taken wing. A new book, “Blockchain Revolution,” explores democratic and humanitarian applications. It’s both eye-opening and, at times, a bit wide-eyed.

Banks on Brexit: deeds count more than words

March 30, 2016

Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s B-word ban is the latest sign global financial firms are tying themselves in knots over the UK’s European Union referendum. If big banks want to keep the union, silence is helpful. But a better plan is to hire more people outside London.

Foreign minnows resist opaque U.S. penalties

February 24, 2016

An Andorran bank has managed to erase its money-laundering black mark. Last year, the Chinese-backed owner of a U.S. wind-farm project won a settlement with D.C. over the secretive CFIUS group’s block on its activities. Overseas Davids can occasionally slay Washington Goliaths.

HSBC shares weighed down by fear of future

February 22, 2016

The global bank hiked its dividend even as 2015 pre-tax profit fell 7 pct. HSBC thinks it can raise returns even as its balance sheet shrinks. But investors remain worried about negative rates, cheap oil and China’s slowdown. An 8 percent yield shows they can’t both be right.

UK Faustian pact with banks has a grim logic

February 15, 2016

HSBC’s unsurprising decision to stay domiciled in London rounds off nine months of the UK softening its approach to banks. There are reasons to find this new tone uncomfortable. But that is a moot point so long as the banking sector supplies 7 pct of UK income tax revenue.

SocGen triumphalism rings hollow

February 11, 2016

Boss Frederic Oudea hailed the “good” full-year result for the French bank’s main business lines as he hiked dividends to half of earnings. But new legal provisions put Societe Generale’s fourth-quarter return on equity at 4.7 pct. With costs up, his confidence seems misplaced.

Deutsche has enough capital but not enough clarity

February 10, 2016

The German lender’s solvency is strong enough to withstand the most likely clouds on the horizon. But Deutsche Bank’s 1.4 trln euro balance sheet is opaque and stuffed with derivatives. Boss John Cryan could deliver relief by opening up on its oil and other exposures.

Deutsche hybrids: from poster boy to problem child

February 9, 2016

The German lender has moved to reassure investors fretting about delayed coupons on its new AT1 securities, after CDS prices collapsed. Unlike hybrid forebears in 2008, AT1s should absorb losses. Yet instead of dampening volatility, the fear of a trigger is exacerbating it.

Credit Suisse chips away at bonus deferral fetish

February 8, 2016

The Swiss bank is cutting the level of annual bonuses it defers. After the 2008 crisis, regulators delayed variable compensation to improve accountability, leaving lenders with higher fixed costs and grumpy staff. Trouble is, ditching deferrals entirely doesn’t look practical.