Fed fines 5 big banks $35M over mortgage servicing

The Federal Reserve fined five large US banks a combined $35.1 million to settle cases of mortgage servicing flaws dating back to 2011. The central bank announced the fines against Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, CIT Group, US Bancorp and PNC Financial as part of a broader effort to terminate

US job growth slows more than expected in December

WASHINGTON — US job growth slowed more than expected in December amid a decline in retail employment, but a pickup in monthly wage gains pointed to labor market strength that could pave the way for the Federal Reserve to increase interest rates in March. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 148,000

The economy is in store for more success in 2018

Some would say it’s going to be tough to top 2017 for its stock market performance, but perhaps it’s time to look at other asset classes for 2018. For starters, stocks soared in 2017, with a strong and much more inclusive rally than in previous years. The Dow Jones was

Rate hikes have negative impacts on the economy

Dear John: I don’t get you today. For months, if not years, you have correctly noted how we older savers have been robbed by artificially set low interest rates. Now that the tide turns, you seriously imply [raising rates is] the wrong move? M.B. Dear M.B.: Let me say this

How do I protect others from car dealership scams?

Dear John: I recently went with my granddaughter to help her lease an inexpensive car. We looked at ads in newspapers and decided to go to a few dealerships to see what we could lease. All the ads were claiming ridiculously low prices and, although I knew it wouldn’t

Fed hikes rates by a quarter point

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point on Wednesday, as anticipated, but left its rate outlook for the coming years unchanged even as policymakers projected a short-term acceleration in US economic growth. Having raised its benchmark overnight lending rate three times this year,

Janet Yellen just gave Trump a bag of coal for Christmas

Janet Yellen gave President Trump a parting Christmas “gift” — of the bag of coal variety — in her final action as head of the Federal Reserve: a quarter-point interest rate hike and the promise of three more next year until the Fed funds rate is above 3

Obama’s $4 trillion gift to the rich

Picture this. You are bidding on a house, or a piece of art, or maybe a rare Honus Wagner baseball card and there’s a guy in the back of the room who keeps raising his hand to drive the price higher. And you already know this much about the

Congress should have seen Fed’s lending guidance: watchdog

The Government Accountability Office on Thursday said the Federal Reserve’s 2013 guidance limiting leveraged lending should have gone through Congress. The guidance had the effect of tamping down the number of LBOs because financing was choked off. If the measure is forced before lawmakers, it is unlikely to pass, industry sources said.

Why the government purposefully skews welfare fraud stats

Dear John: As a retired state auditor, I can vouch for the fact that statistics put out by the government are sometimes phony, not because of incompetence but for other reasons. For example, the New York State Department of Social Services developed a quality-control audit program that consistently produced data

Janet Yellen has finally come to her senses — somewhat

I’ve been telling you for years that the employment data produced by the US government were misleading people into thinking the economy was performing better than it really was. Now Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen — finally! — agrees. Yellen, speaking before the National Association of Business Economics on Sept. 26, said,

How the fed plans to “unwind’ $4T recession stimulus

All right, it’s official. The Federal Reserve really, really, really is going to start to unwind the $4 trillion-plus in stimulus it put into the US economy to fight the Great Recession. Really, it is. The Fed said so last week. No more talk. It’s time for real action. Really. The problem is, the

Janet Yellen has no idea what’s going on with the economy

Let me explain to Fed chief Janet Yellen what is going on in the US economy. It appears she needs to know. At her press conference on Wednesday, Yellen said of the inflation rate being suppressed, “I will not say that the committee clearly understands what the causes are of that.” I

Don’t expect the rate hike to budge your savings interest

Even though Fed chief Janet Yellen has raised its target federal funds rate four times since December 2015 — with a possible fifth increase happening Wednesday — don’t expect interest on your savings deposits to rise any time soon. In part, that’s because banks just don’t need your money. As Lance Pan

Gary Cohn can be easily replaced if he leaves Washington

Let me start by acknowledging the outstanding job National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn’s team has done swaying the media into thinking Armageddon would occur if he left the White House. I get that Cohn was a respected trader on Wall Street at Goldman Sachs. However, Goldman generally mints exceptional talent.

Federal Reserve clears the way for Bass Pro, Cabela’s merger

The Federal Reserve has given Cabela’s shareholders an early Christmas gift. The Fed, which some feared wouldn’t complete a review of a key piece of the $5 billion Bass Pro Shops acquisition of Cabela’s, surprised Wall Street on Thursday by approving a crucial credit card sale — clearing the way for

Lloyd Blankfein on Gary Cohn: “No one’s perfect’

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein gave a less-than full-throated endorsement when asked on Wednesday whether Gary Cohn would make a good chairman of the Federal Reserve. “No one’s perfect, but he’s the best I know,” Blankfein said of Cohn, his former No. 2 at Goldman Sachs, during a talk with journalists

GDP growth is a sign that America is on the right track

The 2016 election was not about a wall or transgender bathrooms. It wasn’t even about ObamaCare or taxes. Sure, they all played a role, but this election was really all about growth. And last week’s upwardly revised gross domestic product number was a solid one at 3 percent, up from a

This “steady’ economic growth isn’t worth cheering about

The media is making the same mistake all over again concerning the economy. Even newspapers that should know better are starting to refer to the economy in ways that are too glowing, despite the revised quarterly growth of 3 percent that was released Wednesday morning. One newspaper the other day, after covering

There’s too much at stake for Gary Cohn to quit on Trump

There’s one other thing you should keep in mind. As I said, the Trump administration — despite the president’s pledge to clean up Washington — is riddled with Goldman Sachs alums. That’s no different than most other recent administrations. One of those Goldman grads is Gary Cohn, chief economic adviser to Trump.

Can the feds, Wall Street prevent another market plunge?

Dear John: I have read numerous columns you have written about how the plunge protection team stops sharp price drops by buying certain futures contracts, which forces the purchase of shares to stop or slow down the free fall of stocks. You seem to indicate that the plunge protection team consists

Globalization’s castaways haunt central bankers

MASSENA, New York/JACKSON HOLE, Wyoming – After a turbulent year of anti-globalization backlash, central bankers still argue open borders and free trade are the key to more jobs, growth and prosperity. But when they meet for the U.S. Federal Reserve’s annual research conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, this week, it will

Wall Street rings up record profits in second quarter

Wall Street just had its most profitable quarter ever — fueled in part by the skimpy returns paid out on savings accounts. US banks rang up record profits of $48.3 billion in the second quarter as the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes weren’t passed along to consumers, the FDIC said Tuesday. The

Wells Fargo names first female chair of any major US bank

Wells Fargo named Betsy Duke, a former Federal Reserve board governor, its next chairman — making her the first woman chair of a major US bank, and ousting her predecessor after just 14 months. Duke, who will take over on Jan. 1, replaces Stephen Sanger, who came on as non-executive chairman

Wall Street should be worried

Recently, I mentioned that North Korea — and fears over the prospect of war — was one of the many problems that Wall Street would have to face this fall. Little did I know that the problem would tease itself days later. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 186 point last

Disappointing Cabela’s results add risk to merger with Bass Pro

The shotgun marriage between Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s may not make it to the altar, after all. Dismal quarterly results at outdoor retailer Cabela’s on Thursday raised the risk that archrival Bass Pro Shops will try to back out of a $5 billion takeover offer if it doesn’t get a

If Janet Yellen is acting worried — you should be too

On Friday, we might know whether there’s a reason Janet Yellen is acting concerned. A couple of weeks ago, the Federal Reserve chair backtracked on her threat to continue aggressively raising interest rates. She hinted that rate hikes — of which there have been four in two years — would be

Judge backs industry ban on ex-Goldman Sachs honcho

An administrative law judge recommended that an ex-Goldman Sachs bigwig get banned from the financial industry for his role in accepting leaked documents from the Federal Reserve — but the banker claims the subordinate who fingered him for the abnormal act is a “liar” and the decision should be tossed. Joe