Best Banking Reads of 2014

What a year it’s been for the banking industry! From threats from outside the industry by Apple and Wal-Mart, to questions on whether Colorado and Washington banks should work with legal marijuana businesses, to regulatory shenanigans at the New York Fed, 2014 has been memorable. As the holidays approach and I think back on the year that was, I thought I’d take a few minutes to share some of the banking-related stories I enjoyed in 2014.


  • Banks given the go-ahead on working with marijuana businesses: Marijuana may be legal in some states, but that doesn’t mean banks are ready to work with marijuana businesses.
  • How to Punish a Bank: This is from National Public Radio’s Planet Money, so it’s more of a listen than a read, but delves into the problems of effectively punishing the big banks.
  • Bank of America Adds a Mortgage Settlement to Its Collection: Bloomberg’s Matt Levine (also cited in the NPR segment) provides the data on (at the time) Bank of America’s $68 billion in mortgage settlements, and asks how effective these penalties and fines are when they become business-as-usual.
  • Inside the Emerald City: Jack Milligan, editor of Bank Director, delved into the culture of the NY Fed following concerns that regulators got just a bit too cozy with the big banks they oversee.

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On Success & (Epic) Failure

My latest copy of Bank Director arrived in the mail Tuesday, and it has me reflecting on both success – and failure – in the banking world.

The 2012 Bank Performance Scorecard definitely highlights success, featuring a lot of “comeback banks” – and their CEOs are profoundly goal driven. Huntington Bancshares Stephen Steinour stated that his bank “wants to win”, and did so through focus on increased capital and growth in lending – Huntington landed at #2 of banks with $50 billion in assets and above. National Penn Bancshares, ranked #12 of banks $5 billion to $50 billion, raised new capital and strengthened its balance sheet in order to run a bank that is “clean, strong, and efficient”. Both banks were solidly profitable after posting huge losses in 2009. Will they perform even better in 2013?

Why is Georgia the #1 state for bank  failures?  The failure has been epic, with 79 bank  failures since the crisis began, $8.5 billion cost to the DIF, and dozens of directors facing FDIC lawsuits. While the collapse of the subprime mortgage market gets a lot of the blame, Georgia’s loose regulation set the stage. Will the remaining banks be stronger in the aftermath – or are there more failures on the horizon?

In the news:

Dodd-Frank likely isn’t going anywhere, Mr. Romney.
Happy Birthday, Dodd-Frank. Welcome to the Terrible Twos.
BofA, Citi and Wells Fargo offer the best online experience.