Here's a look at what's news in banking and finance this morning:
- Bank of America won a dismissal in a lawsuit by Allstate against Countrywide, a key decision legal experts say gives the Charlotte bank a negotiating card in other suits, Bloomberg reports. Allstate claimed that BofA structured the Countrywide acquisition to strip it of its valuable assets while leaving a legal shell for other companies to sue. The judge found no evidence that the bank set out to defraud creditors.
- The SEC has taken it easy on big banks like JPMorgan and Bank of America, The New York Times says. The newspaper's analysis of a number of cases shows that the commission has given the banks waiver of legal liability from certain laws aimed at curbing fraud, which puts them at an advantage.
- One of Wall Street's biggest lobbying organizations is divided in how it feels about the proposed settlement between state attorneys general and the largest mortgage servicers, Bloomberg reports. That's because of a proposed provision that would give banks credit for reducing principal on mortgages that have been sold off as part of bonds, which would hurt investors.
- Loan loss reserves that banks have been releasing, boosting earnings, are about dried up, the Wall Street Journal says. That could have an impact on banks' bottom lines going forward.
- The FDIC is making progress in convincing the markets that big banks will be allowed to fail, a former IMF chief economist writes on the New York Times' Economix blog.