Breakingviews

Goldman’s near-wipeout of Q4 profit met with shrug

January 15, 2016

A tentative $5 bln mortgage settlement comes more than 10 years after the Wall Street bank’s first missteps and more than five since it paid the SEC $550 mln. The deal ought to close the book on crisis-era fines. Even so, the lack of reaction shows how numb investors have become.

MetLife spinoff plan hedges SIFI and activist risk

January 13, 2016

The $50 bln insurer may offload its U.S. retail arm. Boss Steven Kandarian is fighting watchdogs over the systemic label, but carving out the parts most vulnerable to capital hikes lessens the impact of losing. And Carl Icahn’s agitation at AIG shows insurers need to stay alert.

China proves fast learner of painful market lesson

January 7, 2016

It ditched a stock-market circuit breaker days after its introduction. Quite right: the mechanism did more to stir concern about pent-up selling pressures than to calm markets. The speed with which China made this volte-face bodes well for its integration into global markets.

Bank living-will laggards risk capital punishment

November 30, 2015

Big American lenders will soon hear whether their resolution plans are to be rejected for a third time. New global bail-in rules remove the pressing need for regulators to break banks up. But in an election year they could punish insolence by insisting on higher capital buffers.

Cox: Quarterly reporting to get a major rethink

November 17, 2015

From BlackRock’s Larry Fink to presidential contender Hillary Clinton, “quarterly capitalism” has become a four-letter word. Big publicly traded asset managers could change habits by abandoning their own three-monthly results. Watch for that in the coming year.

White House wannabes give Wall Street much to fear

November 11, 2015

The fourth GOP presidential debate unleashed many fanciful notions about the financial crisis and its aftermath. Ben Carson blamed stock buybacks, Jeb Bush botched bank capital and Ted Cruz flubbed monetary policy. It’s modern history whose lessons are too dangerous to repeat.

ECB hits European banks where it doesn’t hurt

November 11, 2015

Europe’s banking supervisor wants to fast-track the phasing out of bogus capital like deferred tax assets. Greater harmonisation is exactly what Frankfurt should be pushing. But the ECB’s inability to tell national governments what to do will limit the fallout for most lenders.

Regional banks grab hold of repo grenade

November 10, 2015

Wells Fargo, Nordea and Sumitomo Mitsui are bulking up in a form of short-term collateralised lending, as big investment banks pull back. Yet buoyant “repo” financing may carry hidden risks. The market played a central role in the financial crisis - and much of it remains opaque.

Hillary Clinton lands soft punches on Wall Street

October 8, 2015

The White House hopeful has unveiled a slew of ideas for reining in financial excess. Initiatives like imposing risk fees on big banks and improving hedge fund reporting won’t win many friends in the industry. But they’re manageable blows that Wall Street could roll with.

Bank watchdogs tie themselves in knots over TLAC

September 10, 2015

Financial regulators are throwing a bone to sprawling global banks by watering down plans for what happens if a lender goes bust. Putting the likes of HSBC on an even footing with rivals structured differently is justifiable. But it makes resolving crises that bit harder.