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  • Wall Street Bonuses Cause a Stir - 13 March 2014
  • Figures released Wednesday by New York State Comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli, revealed that bankers on Wall Street enjoyed an average increase of 15 percent on their annual bonuses for 2013. While this works out to an average bonus of $164,530 it should be noted that the bonus pool of $26.7 billion in 2013 includes all staff members, from the most junior to the most senior, and was reportedly padded out by compensation that had been deferred from previous years. Nonetheless, news of Wall Street banker bonuses climbing 15 percent while, for example, profits from NYSE broker-dealer operations fell 30 percent in 2013, lends credence to the call for regulators to tighten up on banks.

  • Fiscal Cliff Concerns Subdue Markets - 13 December 2012
  • Following a climb of up to 81 points, driven by the Fed's announcement that it would keep interest low and extend its $85 billion a month bond-buying plan, the Dow Jones industrial average closed Wednesday at 13,245.45, being down 2.99 points. While investors responded well to the Fed's announcement, this was soon dampened by the reality that high-level "fiscal cliff" budget talks were continuing to take place in Washington, the outcome of which could impact significantly on Wall Street and the economy in general, should Congress and President Barack Obama be unable to reach a deal to prevent a series of spending cuts and sharp tax increases taking place in January. The Standard & Poor's 500 finished 0.64 points higher to close at 1,428.48, while the Nasdaq composite lost 8.49 points to close at 3,013.81.

  • Benchmark Interest Rate Under Scrutiny - 20 July 2012
  • While the recent Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate) scandal, resulting in a record £290-million fine being imposed on Barclays Plc and the ousting of CEO Robert Diamond, was initially viewed as a revelation, analysts have pointed out that concerns about possible interest rate manipulation were being voiced by a number of parties back in the first quarter of 2008. In March of that year the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) signaled that the benchmark for worldwide short term interest rates was being misstated. In April Citigroup analysts raised similar concerns, and the following month a strategist in Barclay’s employ made it known that the numbers being reported by banks was inaccurate, and yet, it appears that no action was taken at the time.

  • July 2014 Compliance for Volcker Rule - 20 April 2012
  • Named for former United States Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, the Volcker Rule forms part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, designed to prevent banks in the US from making speculative investments that would not be in the best interests of their customers. The Dodd-Frank Act stipulated a 2014 compliance deadline, but some of the law's fine print relating to the Volcker Rule appeared open to interpretation, prompting bank officials to request clarification from financial regulators. The clarification came yesterday in the form of an announcement that Wall Street need not comply immediately with the Volcker Rule banning banks from trading with their own money.

  • Stocks Rally on Fed's Resolve to Aid Economic Recovery - 3 November 2011
  • The first two days of the week saw Wall Street markets declining significantly, with a noteworthy recovery occurring on Wednesday afternoon. The latest policy statement from the Federal Reserve, backed up by positive remarks from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, indicate a commitment from authorities to continue to assist the US economy in its recovery efforts. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed by 178 points, with the S&P 500 rising by 20 points, and the Nasdaq composite surging 33 points, being 1.5 percent, 1.6 percent and 1.3 percent respectively.

  • Moral Hazard – Part 2 - 30 December 2010
  • While there are many reasons behind the current economic crisis, the term 'moral hazard' has been applied to risky decision making actions by lenders which led to the chaos in large financial institutions, referred to as the US subprime mortgage crisis, or the 2007-2010 financial crisis. It appears that the whole too-big-to-fail mindset may have resulted in extreme leniency when assessing the ability of borrowers to repay their loans – to the detriment of both lenders and borrowers. A number of financial giants took a tumble, with some being bailed out with government/taxpayers money and others being taken over by previous competitors, shifting at least part of the burden of bad decision making elsewhere.

  • The Office of Thrift Supervision - 25 March 2010
  • For millions of US citizens the image of the ‘American Dream’ includes a home of their own, and in the past eighteen months or so that has become a thing of the past for many who owned homes, and a seemingly unreachable goal for would-be homeowners. One of the agencies charged with regulating financial institutions who offer US citizens the possibility of owning a home, is the Office of Thrift Supervision. Stated on its website: "The OTS supervises a national thrift industry that is built on the bedrock of the American dream of homeownership – supplying affordable home financing for Americans from all walks of life." While this sounds great in theory, is it working?

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