Monday, February 27, 2012

Morning roundup: Why no outrage for Walmart's debit card fee?

Here's a look at what's news in banking and finance this Monday morning:

  • Bank of America took it on the chin after introducing a $5 debit card fee (later retracted). Walmart has prepaid debit cards, and charges a $3 fee to use them. Forbes magazine explores: Why no outrage there?
  • Billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who owns a sizable chunk of Wells Fargo, said big banks have been "victimized" by homeowners who refinanced loans before being evicted, Bloomberg reports. When the homeowner's refinancing gives them a cash payout larger than the costs of refinancing, "the evicted homeowner was the winner, and the victim was the lender," Buffett wrote in his annual letter.
  • The Federal Reserve continues to play an outsize role in big banks' fortunes, the Wall Street Journal says, both positive and negative. The central bank's interest rate policy cuts into the banks' margins, but the Fed could also give banks a boost next month when it releases the results of stress tests.
  • A less-well-known provision in the $25 billion mortgage settlement between states and big banks will give the banks a loss-share agreement with investors on more than $300 billion in junior liens the banks hold, Bloomberg reports.