Earlier in the week, we detailed JPMorgan's attempt to create their own "web cash" alternative to Bitcoin (and Sberbank's talk of doing the same). However, as M-Cam details, following the failure of the first 154 'claims', JPMorgan issued a further 20 claims - which were summarily rejected (making JPMorgan 0-175 for approved claims). As they note, The United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO)’s handling of applications like JPMorgan’s ‘984 application ("Bitcoin Alternative") highlights the need to fix a broken system - patent applications of existing inventions need to be finally rejected and not be resurrected as zombies (no matter how powerful the claimant). Obviously, large financial institutions want in on the online alternative currency action. But they would be well advised to pursue novel and non?obvious approaches that do not duplicate existing commercial options with respect to a virtual medium of exchange.
As a general rule, extreme economic decline is almost always followed by extreme international conflict. Sometimes, these disasters can be attributed to the human survival imperative and the desire to accumulate resources during crisis. But most often, war amid fiscal distress is usually a means for the political and financial elite to distract the masses away from their empty wallets and empty stomachs. War galvanizes societies, usually under false pretenses. We're not talking about superficial “police actions” or absurd crusades to “spread democracy” to Third World enclaves that don’t want it. No, we're talking about REAL war: war that threatens the fabric of a culture, war that tumbles violently across people’s doorsteps. The reality of near-total annihilation is what oligarchs use to avoid blame for economic distress while molding nations and populations. Because of the very predictable correlation between financial catastrophe and military conflagration, it makes quite a bit of sense for Americans today to be concerned.
- Presidential Task Force Recommends Overhaul of NSA Surveillance Tactics (WSJ)
- Monte Paschi's Largest Shareholder Says It Will Vote Against $4.1 Billion Capital Increase (WSJ)
- SAC Reconsiders Industry Relationships—and Its Name (WSJ)
- Icahn’s Apple Push Criticized by Calpers as ‘Johnny Come Lately’ (BBG)
- In Yemen, al Qaeda gains sympathy amid U.S. drone strikes (Reuters)
- Missing American in Iran was on unapproved mission (AP)
- In China, Western Companies Cut Jobs as Growth Ebbs (WSJ)
- U.S. lays out steps to smooth Obamacare coverage for January (Reuters)
- Las Vegas Sands Said to Drop $35 Billion Spanish Casino Proposal (BBG)
- Twitter Reverts Changes To Blocking Functionality After Strong Negative User Feedback (TechCrunch)
- J.P. Morgan to Pay Over $1 Billion to Settle U.S. Criminal Probe Related to Madoff (WSJ)
- Ford board aims to pin down CEO Mulally's plans (Reuters)
- Raising Minimum Wage Is a Bad Way to Help People (BBG)
- Japan Lawmakers Demand Speedy Pension Reform (WSJ)
- EU reaches landmark deal on failed banks (FT)
- In which Hilsenrath repeats what we said in August: Fed Moves Toward New Tool for Setting Rates (WSJ)
- Senators Vow to Add to Iran Economic Sanctions in 2014 (BBG)
- Centerbridge in $3.3bn LightSquared bid (FT)
- Banks, Agencies Draw Battle Lines Over 'Volcker Rule' (WSJ)
Curious how much the various banks who stood to be impacted by or, otherwise, benefit from either a concentration or dilution of the Volcker rule? According to OpenSecrets, which crunched the numbers, here is how much being able to continue prop trading meant to some of the largest US banks and lobby groups:
- American Bankers Association: $6.495 million
- JPMorgan: $4 million
- Wells Fargo: $4.440 million
- Citigroup: $4.240 million
- Independent Community Bankers of America: $3.581 million
- Bank of America: $2 million
Not bad considering the loophole-ridden Volcker Rule will effectively permit "hedge" books (where an army of lawyers paid $1000/hour defines just what a hedge is) to continue piling on billions of dollars in wildly profitable, Fed reserve funded trades.
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, copy 'em, and then beat 'em. While everyone's attention has been glued to Bitcoin (and its various smaller and less viable for now alternative digital currencies), JPMorgan has submitted a patent which appears to set the scene for a competing centralized network to Bitcoin. As LetsTalkBitcoin noted first, the "Method and system for processing internet payments using the electronic funds transfer network," states that Chase's technology is a "new paradigm." Moreover that it permits the creation of "virtual cash" (also referred to as "web cash") with a "real-time digital exchange of value." Without naming the virtual currency or any competing payments system by name, the bank takes a swipe at the crytocurrency model, adding that sees “a new marketplace” emerging for “low dollar, high volume, real-time payments with payment surety for both consumers and producers.”
And so it is done (as we detailed here)... and due to be put in place as of April1st 2014 (rather ironically). The 100-plus-pages of rules and regulations prohibit two activities of banking entities: (i) engaging in proprietary trading; and (ii) owning, sponsoring, or having certain relationships with a hedge fund or private equity fund. But the kicker...
"requires banking entities to establish an internal compliance program designed to help ensure and monitor compliance with the prohibitions and restrictions of the statute and the final rule."
Great! Because self-regulation worked so well in the past for the financial services industry.
- Glass-Steagall Fans Plan New Assault If Volcker Rule Deemed Weak (BBG) ... "if"? The banks control the legislators and regulators...
- Cellphone data spying: It's not just the NSA (USA Today)
- Major tech companies push for limits on government surveillance (Reuters)
- Shanghai Warns Kids to Stay Indoors for Seventh Day on Smog (BBG)
- Protesters fell Lenin statue, tell Ukraine's president 'you're next' (Reuters)
- Everyone must be flying private these days: EADS to cut 5000-6000 jobs, close Paris HQ in restructuring (FT)
- Big Players Trade 'Upstairs' (WSJ)
- There’s no way to tell how many people who think they’ve signed up for health insurance through the U.S. exchange actually have (BBG)
- Slower China inflation reduces worries of tighter policy (Reuters)
The too big to fail banks have a larger share of the U.S. banking industry than they have ever had before. So if having banks that were too big to fail was a "problem" back in 2008, what is it today? The total number of banks in the United States has fallen to a brand new all-time record low and that means that the health of the too big to fail banks is now more critical to our economy than ever. In 1985, there were more than 18,000 banks in the United States. Today, there are only 6,891 left, and that number continues to drop every single year. That means that more than 10,000 U.S. banks have gone out of existence since 1985. Meanwhile, the too big to fail banks just keep on getting even bigger.
- With website improved, Obama to pitch health plan (Reuters)
- Joe Biden condemns China over air defence zone (FT)
- Tally of U.S. Banks Sinks to Record Low (WSJ)
- Black Friday Weekend Spending Drop Pressures U.S. Stores (BBG)
- Cyber Monday Sales Hit Record as Amazon to EBay Win Shoppers (BBG)
- Ukraine's Pivot to Moscow Leaves West Out in the Cold (WSJ)
- Investment banks set to cut pay again despite rise in profits (FT)
- Worst Raw-Material Slump Since ’08 Seen Deepening (BBG)
- Democrats Face Battles in South to Hold the Senate (WSJ)
- Hong Kong reports 1st case of H7N9 bird flu (AP)
- In Fracking, Sand Is the New Gold (WSJ)
It’s interesting, disturbing and pathetic that this article emerged so shortly after we highlighted the fact that there is about to be a huge, and potentially disruptive reset in home equity loans over the next several years. So while we are still dealing with the ramifications of the prior housing bubble and the HELOCs associated with that debacle, we are right back at it. Extracting additional equity from another phony housing bubble to remodel homes that likely aren’t worth anywhere near what people think once private equity and money laundering oligarchs are done with their binge buying. As we have said many times before, QE makes a society lose its mind.
- Washington turns bond market upside (FT)
- China Air-Zone Move Expands Field of Islands Spat With Japan (BBG); Japan rejects China claim on airspace over disputed islands (FT)
- 'Great Satan' meets 'Axis of Evil' and strikes a deal (Reuters)
- Iran Pact Faces Stiff Opposition (WSJ)
- Allies Fear a US Pullback in Mideast (WSJ)
- India to resume paying Iran in Euros (Economic Times)
- At 'Business Insider,' it's time to sell (USA Today)
- More ECB currency war jawboning: ECB’s Hansson Says Rate Cut Options Not Fully Exhausted (BBG)
- Spy World Links Plus Obama Ties Stoke Concern About NSA Review (BBG)
- A disunited Europe will struggle even to disintegrate (FT)
In the aftermath of the devastating, vicious, tax-deductible DOJ settlement with JPMorgan, its stock may have responded by soaring to new all time highs (unclear if it was JPM's prop desk - in violation of the Volcker and every other rule - doing most of the buying) but that doesn't mean the benefits go out equally to all. According to Reuters, while JPM's shareholders will reap the benefits of yet another year in which Jamie Dimon uses nearly $600 billion in excess reserves, aka excess deposits, to ramp product risk around the globe and corner assorted markets (until various unknown teapot tempests blow up in his face), JPM's employees - unable to manipulate every market as much as they want to, and as much as they have in the past now that every action by JPM is scrutizined - will be stuck with total all in compensation that is unchanged from last year. Oh the humanity.
- JPMorgan $13 Billion Mortgage Deal Seen as Lawsuit Shield (BBG)
- J.P. Morgan Is Haunted by a 2006 Decision on Mortgages (WSJ)
- World powers, Iran in new attempt to reach nuclear deal (Reuters)
- Keystone Foes Seek to Thwart Oil Sands Exports by Rail (BBG) - mostly Warren Buffet?
- How Would Fed Deal With Debt Ceiling Crisis? Look to Minutes for Clues (Hilsenrath)
- Anything to prevent the loss of prop trading: 'Volcker Rule' Faces New Hurdles (WSJ)
- BOE Sees Case for Keeping Record-Low Rate Beyond 7% Jobless (BBG)
- Obama Backs Piecemeal Immigration Overhaul (WSJ)
- Abenomics Seen Cutting Japan Bad-Loan Costs to 2006 Low (BBG)
- J.P. Morgan, U.S. Reach Historic Settlement (WSJ)
- OECD cuts global growth forecast (AP)
- Guess the profit margin: Wal-Mart Touts $98 TV as Holiday Seen Weakest Since 2009 (BBG)
- Republicans defy threat, block another Obama judicial pick (Reuters)
- Fed Ponders How to Temper Tapering Without Rate Increase (BBG)
- Wall Street uses 'merchant' workaround to cling to commodity assets (Reuters)
- PBOC to ‘Basically’ End Normal Yuan Intervention, Zhou Says (BBG)
- Italy’s leader warns Germany of rise of anti-European sentiment (FT)
- Yellen Nomination for Fed Chairman to Get Vote This Week (BBG)
- As U.S. default threatened, banks took extraordinary steps (Reuters)
- NSA vowed repeatedly to fix its collection errors (AP)