Study: Video conferencing good for small businesses, complex deals | Fifth Third opening new branches in the Southeast | US initial unemployment claims lowest since 1969
July 20, 2018
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Experience of US consumer-finance bureau director nominee scrutinized
The experience of President Donald Trump's nominee to direct the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Kathy Kraninger, drew praise from Republicans and questions from Democrats during a Senate banking committee hearing. Some senators criticized choices Kraninger made while serving in the White House Office of Management and Budget, specifically regarding the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy on illegal immigration.
The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (7/19),  The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (7/19) 
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Retail Banking Roundup
Study: Video conferencing good for small businesses, complex deals
Banks are beginning to add video conferencing to their services, and analysts say it's a tool that could work well for small businesses and those with complicated needs such as mortgages. Bank of America added video conferencing centers to 850 branches and says it is a time-saver for commercial clients.
American Banker online (free content) (7/19) 
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Fifth Third opening new branches in the Southeast
Fifth Third Bank officials say they plan to open up to 125 branches in the Southeast over the next three to five years as part of an effort to expand into the region. Bank officials also plan to close up to 120 branches in areas where the bank already has a large number of branches.
The Business Journals (tiered subscription model) (7/19) 
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Industry News
US initial unemployment claims lowest since 1969
The number of Americans filing for state unemployment benefits fell last week to a seasonally adjusted 207,000, the smallest number since December 1969, the Labor Department said. Economists surveyed by Reuters expected claims to rise to 220,000.
Reuters (7/19) 
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Symantec: Mealybug banking trojan becoming more widespread
Hacking group Mealybug's operation is spreading beyond just targeting banking customers in Europe and is making its way to the US, per Symantec. Mealybug is profiting from the use of its Emotet trojan by malicious actors to deliver payloads such as Qakbot, Symantec reports.
ZDNet (7/19) 
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Trump first US president to knock Fed in quarter-century
President Donald Trump criticized the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates while also saying, "I'm letting them do what they feel is best." Trump's comments were the first public presidential statement critical of the Federal Reserve since the term of George H.W. Bush.
USA Today (7/19),  The Hill (7/19) 
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Regulatory Report
Fed should consider publishing SOFR average, Quarles says
It would be appropriate for the Federal Reserve to consider publishing a compound average of the Secured Overnight Financing Rate to foster greater confidence in the benchmark, Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal Quarles told the Alternative Reference Rates Committee on Thursday. "It has been suggested that we could call it SAFR, for secured average financing rate, and this is something that we are encouraging our staff to explore," Quarles said, and the ARRC has selected SOFR as a Libor alternative, encouraging the industry to make a shift.
Reuters (7/19) 
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US yield curve's flattening prompts questions for Fed's Powell
The flattening of the US yield curve makes some investors worried about an economic slowdown, although Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says the economy remains strong enough for rate increases.
Financial Times (subscription required) (7/18) 
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Legislative Affairs
House votes to give Congress control of CFPB budget
The US House of Representatives passed two appropriations bills, one of which includes a provision putting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's budget under congressional control. Another provision would give the Federal Reserve total control of the Volcker rule.
The Hill (7/19),  American Banker online (subscription required) (7/19) 
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Career Development
Being busy is not evidence of productivity
The most productive people have large chunks of free time on their calendars, author Laura Vanderkam argues in a new book. People who claim to be "constantly time-pressed" are often failing to make progress on their key goals.
Entrepreneur online (7/13) 
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A learned fool is more foolish than an ignorant one.
playwright, actor and poet
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