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Home » Daily Briefing » Daily briefing - 24 November 2016

Daily briefing - 24 November 2016

To its horror, Apple found its MacBook Pro so solid that people were failing to run out and buy a new one every two years. Hence the first significant upgrade since mid-2012 came last month, with a new 'Touch ID Bar' replacing the traditional array of function keys. Apple Pay on mobile hasn't been the success the company hoped for, so now the firm is returning to first principles, incorporating discoveries that the way we pay for something affects our brains. How much? More than we think, it appears. "There's something schizophrenic about credit cards," neuroeconomist Drazen Prelec told Wired. "On the one hand, people seem to feel better if they buy something with a credit card, but they feel much worse when they have to pay the bill. Credit cards really disconnect your mental accounting systems." Debit cards, however, can reconnect the act of buying something with paying for it. "And that's what people like," he says.

MPS Problems

Time is running out for Monte dei Paschi di Siena, reports Bloomberg, with management enacting a three-part plan: convert bonds to stock, sell shares to investors and securitise bad loans. This frantic race to keep the bank alive happens against the backdrop of a looming political crisis domestically. Following Brexit and the Trump victory, a populist groundswell in Italy may produce a No vote in the coming referendum — which Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has made into a vote of confidence in his own leadership. Bloomberg writes that Monte Paschi CEO Marco Morelli is on such a high-intensity roadshow to save the bank that he and his team resorted to taking the Underground around London in order to get ahead of traffic.

Monte dei Paschi is not the only troubled lender in Italy — and some investors are asking why they should put money into Monte when there are arguably better opportunities with the country's biggest lender, UniCredit, which is also raising capital. As Reuters reports, investors are positioning themselves to profit from an Italian crisis, whether that is precipitated by a No vote or a more general malaise brought on by years of failing to tackle the country's bad loans.

"I must confess, it doesn't leap off the page as an overwhelming opportunity": that was American investor Wilbur Ross's take on investing in Monte back in the summer. Mr Ross has made a name for himself in recent years by investing in troubled European lenders, trebling his investment in Bank of Ireland and walking away with close to €500m and also taking a stake in Greece's Eurobank. Monte proved a step too far. Now it appears that Mr Ross's expertise will be tapped by Donald Trump, with Fortune this morning claiming that Mr Ross will become the new US Commerce secretary.

Reuters reports that it has seen a draft plan by the regulator of national banks in the United States — the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) — which was drawn up following the Wells Fargo scandal. The plan would harden sanctions imposed on banks that "abuse their clients or break banking laws". The OCC has previously waived tougher sanctions against offending banks — but perhaps the Wells straw will prove to be the last. Certainly, Wells Fargo's almost uninterrupted presence in the news over the past months isn't doing its reputation any favours.

Chris Skinner wants to reboot bank boardrooms
How Netflix processes consumer transactions
Berlin and Paris on collision course over banking rules [FT Paywall]
Nomanini rolls out loans system for merchants in Ghana
2 August 2016: Wilbur Ross on Monte dei Paschi di Siena [FT Paywall]

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