Felix Salmon

Will other banks go the way of MF Global?

October 27, 2011

John Carney wonders whether MF Global might turn out to be simply the first of many banks to go bust in a European financial crisis.

Market inefficiency of the day, Irish bank edition

October 26, 2011


You won’t be surprised to hear that shareholders in Allied Irish Banks have not done very well for themselves in the past five years. It did go bust, after all, and had to be nationalized; the share-price chart is above. But recently, as part of the recapitalization of the bank, the number of shares outstanding rose dramatically. Here’s the announcement, which doesn’t quite spell things out:

Is the SEC colluding with banks on CDO prosecutions?

October 20, 2011

Is the SEC colluding with Wall Street’s biggest banks to let them off lightly with respect to their dodgy CDOs? Jesse Eisinger and Jake Bernstein get an astonishing on-the-record admission today, from a Citigroup flack, that might indeed be the case:

BofA puts taxpayers on the hook for Merrill’s derivatives

October 20, 2011

Bloomberg had a story, a couple of days ago, about BofA moving Merrill Lynch derivatives to its retail-banking subsidiary. The story was quite long and hard to follow: there were lots of detours into explanations of what a derivative is, or explorations of what the BAC stock price was doing that day. So let me try to cut away the fat.

Citi’s Abacus

October 20, 2011

It’s worth reading the full SEC complaint in the case which was settled by Citigroup yesterday for $285 million. For anybody familiar with Goldman’s Abacus deal, it all rings very familiar; in fact, the wording on the Abacus sign can be applied perfectly accurately to Class V Funding III. It’s worth rehearsing in full:

Mortgage refinance doesn’t belong in the settlement talks

October 18, 2011

The WSJ has the latest mortgage-settlement trial balloon, and it’s pretty weak tea: under the terms of the deal, if (a) you’re underwater on your mortgage, and (b) you’re current on your mortgage payments, and (c) your mortgage is owned by the bank outright, rather than having been securitized, then you would be given the opportunity to refinance your mortgage at prevailing market rates.

Annals of transparent banking, Citi edition

October 11, 2011

On Saturday, two NYT columnists — Ron Lieber and Joe Nocera — attacked the sorry state of bank checking accounts. And their conclusions were almost identical. Here’s Ron:

Explaining the ECB’s latest program

October 7, 2011

The ECB announced yesterday that it’s going to be throwing a bunch more cash at European banks. No one knows how much it’ll end up being, exactly, but it’ll almost certainly be in the hundreds of billions of euros.

Could the CFPB stop a debit-card charge?

October 4, 2011

Pace the president, does Bank of America’s $5 debit-card fee really show the need for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? Not really: the CFPB does not exist to prevent banks from charging stupid fees as part of a self-defeating protest against the Durbin amendment. If BofA wants to charge $5, or $50, or even $500 to people using its debit cards, then so long as it gives them fair warning, does so transparently, and is happy to see them close their accounts, it should be allowed to do so.