Weil on Finance: More Pain in Spain
Greetings, View fans. Here’s a look at my morning reading.
More bad news for Spain’s banking sector (along with a lot of the customers). No wonder the European Central Bank is pushing so hard to get a banking union approved for the euro area. From Bloomberg News: “More than 5 percent of Spanish residential mortgages were in default in the third quarter, up from 3.5 percent a year earlier, according to data released today by the Bank of Spain. The level was 0.7 percent in 2007, the year before the real estate market imploded.” Defaults as a proportion of all loans by Spanish lenders climbed to a record 13 percent in October from 12.7 percent the previous month. The second link takes you to the data on the Bank of Spain’s website, released today.
JPMorgan turns tables on the government
JPMorgan Chase & Co. sued the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. over claims stemming from its purchase of Washington Mutual in 2008. This is interesting mainly because we finally have a news story about a lawsuit involving JPMorgan in which the government is the defendant rather than the plaintiff.
Peter Atwater at Minyanville has a good take on this subject, which I wrote about earlier this week after Zions blamed the Volcker rule for its inability to continue classifying a bunch of collateralized debt obligations as “held to maturity,” triggering a big charge to earnings this quarter. Zions said the rule will force it to sell the investments. Here’s Atwater: “Why analysts and investors continue to forgive these repeated `one-time non-cash’ charges is beyond me. From my perspective, Zions made two clear mistakes: It bought securities at a price that was too high (and rates rose and/or spreads widened), and it woefully misread the regulatory environment. Interest rate and regulatory risks are two bread-and-butter risks of banking, and yet in yesterday's news about Zions, the bank’s management asks, `Who would ever have imagined this?!’”
A guide to the Fed’s big day today
The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee releases its statement today at 2 p.m., and Ben Bernanke will hold a news conference afterward. Aki Ito of Bloomberg has a good guide on what to look for, from when the Fed will start scaling back quantitative easing to employment thresholds.
The funniest business headlinesof 2013
Fark.com is out with the nominees for its “Business Headline of the Year” contest. (Fark’s slogan is “Real News. Real Funny.” So that should give you an idea of the criteria.) Among the candidates: “U.S. automakers struggle with reality, but so far have still managed to fend it off.”
(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)