While You Were Working - April 9

On money and guns

For anyone wondering who some members of GOP loved more – Wall Street or the NRA – here is your answer.

While both sides to this kerfuffle – Citigroup and various GOP lawmakers – are really only trying to score good publicity, it is telling to see which lawmakers break where should this grow into an actual, live-fire (sorry, I couldn’t resist) debate.

The 2018 version of a get-tough regulator

Half of me thinks someone forgot to tell Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting there would be press in the room when he made his speech today before the Independent Community Bankers of America. The other half of me knows better.

Otting knows his audience and he played all the greatest hits:

  • Making anti-money laundering laws more “flexible.”
  • Re-decentralizing bank supervision (I thought bankers didn’t like a web of regulations?)
  • Touting how the Trump administration is very “banker-supportive.”
  • Saying the OCC would be more “responsiveness to our customers, which are the banks.”

Hmmm ... maybe cops on the street would get along better with criminals if they started referring to them as “customers.”

Strange days

It is a strange day indeed when CFPB boss Mick Mulvaney comes off looking like a tough regulator. Word is the CFPB is getting ready to slap a fine on Wells Fargo to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, maybe even (cue your Dr. Evil voice) … $1 billion!

You know my view on bank fines. $1 billion is not really newsworthy. The only thing that makes this fine newsworthy is that it is coming from Mulvaney.

Tariff winners and losers

While the US agriculture community stands to suffer quite a bit from any tariffs China actually decides to impose, other countries are ready fill the void – including Brazil. It is kind of funny how a possible US-China trade war would be just the medicine Brazil needs to end what I believe is its own “Lost Decade.”

Ten years ago, Brazil was poised to become a global socioeconomic powerhouse. A commodities boom was powering the economy of a country that stood to bask in the glory of hosting not only the World Cup, but also the Olympics.  Brazil is the country that should have gotten tired of winning. But then corruption and systemic income inequality got in the way.

Speaking of trade wars

Bridgewater founder Ray Dalio did some interesting pontificating about what the rhetoric from President Trump (and new National Security Advisor John Bolton) on trade wars and actual wars really means for markets and the wider world.

What could possibly go wrong?

An infamously opaque bank is continuing its expansion into an infamously opaque country.

Cheating

This story didn’t publish while you were working today, but I think it is still worth including in today’s round up. It is not surprising, but incredibly frightening. We live in a world where people still believe everything they read. What is going to happen when the world becomes a place where those same people shouldn’t even believe the things they see?

WYWW Appetizers

  • Cue your Dr. Evil voice again …. $1 trillion.
  • Lots of chatter in the aftermath of Deutsche Bank swapping out its CEO.
  • A solid commentary on the difference between being popular and having good PR.
  • Pop-Pop-Pop goes the Bitcoin.