All Articles Finance While You Were Working - April 20

While You Were Working – April 20

Wells Fargo gets dinged, HSBC gets greener, Jes Staley skates, Arsene Wenger walks, and Avicii is gone.

3 min read



Wake me up and tell me today's news is just a bad dream. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images entertainment)

Wells Fargo took its medicine

Wells Fargo’s punishment at the hands of the CFPB and the OCC was finally made public today. The dollar figure – $1 billion – isn’t all that damaging, so much of the focus falls on the powers the regulators say the reserve the right to exercise. Those powers include the ability to remove senior executives and even prevent the hiring of any new executive the regulators deem unworthy.  

To be clear, this settlement only applies to Wells Fargo’s misdeeds within its auto-lending and mortgage units. It is not related to the fake accounts scandal that has plagued its retail banking unit. The SEC and DOJ are still investigating possible wrongdoing in Wells Fargo’s wealth management unit.

HSBC got greener

No, that is not some coy reference to today’s date being 4/20.

HSBC says it is going to set back from financing fossil fuel projects. The announcement is a bit bellicose as it only relates to new business and applies to countries where there are no new deals to be made.

“This policy will ban financing to countries that have mostly stopped opening new coal plants but leave the door open to countries that are.”

Nevertheless, this is a step in the right direction for much-maligned HSBC. The banked has pledged to commit $100 billion to sustainable finance projects by 2025 and aims to source 100% of its own electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

Fun with headlines

Well … this isn’t exactly fun with headlines; it is fun with sub-headlines. This story is about British banking regulators going soft on Barclays boss Jes Staley over his multiple attempts to unmask a whistleblower at the bank.

Hear is the sub-headline: “Many are asking how committed the UK is to addressing light-touch regulation”

Me thinks the story answers the question about the UK’s regulatory commitments. The Staley affair doesn’t exemplify “no-touch” regulation. But it is a shining example of “light-touch” regulation.

Adrift at Sea

Caught in the middle of the tariff tit-for-tat, a handful of ships carrying US sorghum bound for China have changed course. China says the US is dumping the grain into its markets, so it is unclear at this point where the ships might end up. While their cargo isn’t in contango, those ships are certainly doing a tariff tango.

A big loss

Avicii is dead.

I was introduced to the music of the Swedish DJ/producer at a Barcelona club late one night (or was it early in the morning?) back in 2013. My cousin, who was half my age and twice as cool, played “Wake Me Up” and that song became my anthem for that vacation. When I brought it back home, my kids – who were just toddlers at the time – couldn’t get enough of it. We used to play it on repeat and my kids would just dance, dance, dance … the kind of sweat-inducing dancing many of Avicii’s fans did whenever they heard his music at a club.

My cousin made a highlight video of his Spanish vacation from that summer and he set it to “Wake Me Up.” I am going to play it tonight on repeat for my kids.

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