Regulators: Volcker Rule set for approval
After years of “wrestling,” stricter financial oversight may finally be in sight, said Scott Patterson in The Wall Street Journal. Federal agencies plan to vote next week on “a toughened version of the Volcker Rule, ushering in an era of stricter oversight for Wall Street with restrictions on the trading banks can do with their own money.” One key provision would require “that hedges be designed to reduce specific risks” rather than make a profit for the bank. Though the linchpin of the postcrisis Dodd-Frank legislation has been long in coming, “the rule was widely anticipated” and most banks have stopped “proprietary trading.”
But the new rule could still be bad news for bankers, said Michael J. Mooreand Dakin Campbell in Bloomberg.com. Even the largest firms say they “are getting little detail about the final terms of the Volcker Rule’s ban on proprietary trade,” fueling concerns that the new regulation could cut up to $44 billion in revenue made from market-making, or “using the firm’s capital to buy and sell securities with customers.” And banks say they could lose another $14 billion from investment revenue, thanks to “the rule’s limits on stakes in hedge funds and private-equity deals.”
Economy: Trade gap falls as exports peak
American products are back in high demand, said Paul Davidson in USA Today. U.S. exports hit a record high in October, according to new data from the Commerce Department. After three straight months of declines, exports rose 1.7 percent in October, hitting a peak of $192.7 billion. Shipments of industrial supplies, oil, liquid natural gas, and chemicals drove the growth, while car exports slipped. The trade gap also fell to $40.6 billion, which experts say helps boost economic growth as American companies sell more products abroad and domestic consumers buy fewer foreign goods.
Media: Newsweek returning to print
Newsweek is coming back, said Christine Haughney in The New York Times. The “struggling weekly magazine” that ended its print publication last year “plans to turn the presses back on.” Its new owners, IBT Media, which took over the magazine in August, said last week that the newsweekly would return as a 64-page “boutique product” in January or February 2014. “It’s going to be a more subscription-based model,” said the magazine’s editor in chief, Jim Impoco. “We see it as a premium product.”
Mortgages: BofA settles with Freddie Mac
Bank of America and Freddie Mac are burying the hatchet, said Nick Timiraos and Ben Fox Rubin in The Wall Street Journal. The two firms reached a settlement this week “to resolve claims stemming from mortgage loans the bank sold to Freddie over the past decade.” As part of the deal, Freddie will receive $404 million from BofA. The latest settlement brings BofA’s total payout tally to Freddie and its larger rival, Fannie Mae, to $14.6 billion.
Banks: EU levies record Libor fine
The European Union has slapped a record $2.3 billion antitrust fine on five European and U.S. banks “for rigging benchmark interest rates,” said Mark Thompson in CNN.com. Deutsche Bank was hit with the largest penalty: a whopping $983.8 million fine “for participating in illegal cartels to manipulate the Euro Interbank Offered Rate, or Euribor, and London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor.” Other banks fined for Libor rigging included Société Générale, the Royal Bank of Scotland, JPMorgan Chase, and Citigroup. A British broker, RP Martin, was also fined.