Apple Bank penalized for AML violations; is PPP worth the cost?

Wall Street Journal

Bad Apple

New York-based Apple Bank for Savings agreed to pay $12.5 million to settle allegations by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. “that it failed to comply with anti-money-laundering rules. The bank allegedly violated the Bank Secrecy Act between April 2014 and September 2018,” the FDIC said. “The order was issued in December and made public on Friday.”

“The penalty was imposed after Apple Bank was asked in 2015 to enhance its anti-money-laundering compliance program. The bank had failed to comply with that FDIC order in a timely manner, the FDIC said. Apple Bank said it was committed to working with regulators and had invested considerable resources in addressing the FDIC’s prior order. The bank consented to both orders without admitting or denying the FDIC’s findings.”

Financial Times

Controlling the rails

Mastercard’s decision to quadruple the interchange fees it charges U.K. customers to buy goods from the European Union was only partly due to Brexit, an FT op-ed says. It also has a lot to do with the duopoly pricing power Mastercard and Visa still hold.

“It is all the more striking because the payments industry has supposedly been at the center of the financial technology revolution. There has been more fintech innovation in payments than anywhere else. Yet, unlike in other parts of the old financial system, the new competition has not challenged the legacy credit card companies but entrenched them. The card companies have thrived in large part due to their control of the infrastructure. It remains a stark reality that few newcomer payments companies outside China can claim to have developed large-scale alternative ‘rails’ on which to route payments.”

New York Times

Worth the cost?

Few pandemic programs have gotten as much widespread support among both Democrats and Republicans as the Paycheck Protection Program, “the government’s marquee effort to help small businesses weather the pandemic. Yet there is dissent from one notable contingent: Academic economists who have studied the program have concluded that it has saved relatively few jobs and that, at a cost of more than half a trillion dollars, it has been far less efficient than other government efforts to help the economy.”

“The divergence in views over the program’s economic payoff stems in part from ambiguity about its goals: saving jobs or saving businesses. Given the program’s cost, saving jobs on that scale doesn’t necessarily qualify as a success. And because the paycheck program was designed to reach as many businesses as possible, much of the money went to companies that were at little risk of laying off workers, or that would have brought them back quickly even without the help.”


Even as the Federal Reserve “dedicates research and attention to racial economic outcomes and publicly champions inclusion, it has had a poor record of building a work force that looks like the population it is meant to serve,” the Times reports. “When it comes to employing Black economists in particular, the central bank still falls short. Black people are less represented within the Fed than in the field as a whole. Only two of the 417 economists, or 0.5%, on staff at the Fed’s board in Washington were Black, as of data the Fed provided last month.”

“Practices that favor job candidates with similar life experiences and those from elite economics programs, which are often heavily white, have sometimes prevented diverse hiring, current and former employees said. A brash culture can make some parts of the central bank unwelcoming, which can lower retention.”


Spreading out

HSBC, which derives most of its profit from Asia, “on Monday it had set up a new private banking business in Thailand, the Asia-focused lender’s second onshore expansion in Southeast Asia, as it seeks to grab a bigger share of the growing rich population,” Reuters reported. “HSBC said the new private bank, which is in one of the most promising wealth markets in Asia, will help it provide clients with access to international capital markets by leveraging its existing infrastructure of advisory and investment methodologies in Asia.”

“Last year, HSBC combined its global private banking and retail wealth businesses to create a new unit that manages more than $1.4 trillion in clients’ assets, with half coming from Asia.”


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