American banks: Not yet out of the woods

UK Only Article: 
standard article

Issue: 

Who’s afraid of cheap oil?

Fly Title: 

American banks

Location: 

NEW YORK

Rubric: 

The good times are ending before they had really begun

FOR a spell last year American banks seemed poised to reattain the sort of double-digit returns that have largely eluded them since the financial crisis. A robust market for takeovers and public offerings was producing a flurry of fees. Credit quality, which had collapsed in the crisis, was “pristine”, according to Jamie Dimon, the boss of JPMorgan Chase, America’s biggest bank by assets—something that was allowing banks to reduce the provisions they had made to cover soured loans. The rash of swingeing fines that had been disfiguring profits had largely dissipated (although Goldman Sachs recently agreed to pay $5 billion to settle charges that it knowingly peddled dodgy mortgage-backed securities). And then there was the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates in December for the first time in nearly a …

Banking reform: Culture wars

UK Only Article: 
UK article only

Issue: 

Migrant men and European women

Fly Title: 

Banking reform

Main image: 

20160116_brp505.jpg

Rubric: 

Bankers face a behavioural Big Bang—but only if new rules are obeyed

ACCORDING to KPMG, an accountancy firm, Britain’s banks handed over a whopping £38.7 billion ($56 billion) in fines and customer remediation between 2011 and 2014. This represented over 60% of their profits during the period. The scale of these payouts gives some idea of the toll that a succession of scandals took on the industry, from the manipulation of the LIBOR interest rate to the mis-selling of payment-protection insurance (not to mention the banks’ role in the financial crash of 2008). Once “masters of the universe”, bankers are now viewed with the same contempt that people reserve for politicians, and even journalists.
Particularly after the LIBOR scandal of 2012, a lot of the blame for what went wrong has been attached to a “failure of professionalism and ethics”, to quote the …