While You Were Working - March 20

The Guardian dropped its latest bomb on banks anti-money laundering prowess … or lack thereof

The Guardian has made a bit of a habit of uncovering some of the banking industry’s worst offenses when it comes to money laundering (remember all the bricks of cashing flying in and out of HSBC branches in Switzerland?). Now comes news that British banks helped Russian criminals launder $738 million. HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, Barclays and Coutts were all involved; and the Guardian even details how with this cute little video explainer. The Guardian seems to take a wee bit of joy in exposing such stories, which is why it even twisted the knife a bit by compiling this handy dandy list of all the accused banks’ denials and non-denials.

The market value of America’s top 4 banks surpassed $1 trillion

Despite that pesky Dodd-Frank Act and all the brutal regulations they have been forced to navigate and endure, the combined value of the 4 largest banks in the US recently surpassed $1 trillion. If only the government would get out of the way so those banks could start growing.

Fake accounts kept weighing on Wells Fargo

Not surprisingly, the fake account scandal Wells Fargo has been enduring is continuing to drag on the bank’s ability to … well … open new accounts. Wells Fargo says applications for new credit cards dropped 55% in February, compared to February of 2016. That certainly isn’t a good data point, but maybe it is also misleading. After all, the 55% decline is in comparison to the total the bank reported last year, which probably includes a ton of fake applications. Maybe the number of applications this year is even or only slightly down from the number of real applications it received last year?

People debated the Financial CHOICE Act

At the FIA’s International Futures Industry Conference last week in Boca Raton, Fla., I chatted with numerous financial services executives from all over the world - including the leaders of financial exchanges. None of them … zero … zilch … nada … think the US Congress needs to repeal Dodd-Frank. But people are still talking about the Financial CHOICE Act like it is some kind of silver bullet that will fix all the ails Dodd-Frank. The guys over at MoneyandBanking.com say the CHOICE Act fails on numerous fronts. Their analysis, which is essentially the highlights of the NYU Stern book Regulating Wall Street: CHOICE Act vs Dodd-Frank, concurs with the consensus of the finance gurus down in Boca: Dodd-Frank shouldn’t be repealed, it should just be repaired. Sound familiar?

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