Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Banks courting first-term House members on financial committee

Newcomers to the House Financial Services Committee are racking up campaign contributions at a far faster rate than peers not on the committee, Politico reports.

Freshmen on the committee brought in an average $322,000 in the second quarter. Those not on the committee were given about $222,000, Politico found. Commercial banks make up one of the largest industries making these donations, an Observer look at campaign records shows.

U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger, a Charlotte Republican first-termer on the committee, is not cited in the Politicio report. FEC records show he brought in about $200,000 in the quarter. To be fair, his district is a fairly safe Republican district, unlike some of his peers that are bringing in more money.

CLUB FOR GROWTH OPPOSES WATT: The conservative group has called the FHFA director confirmation a "key vote" and urged the Senate to vote against Charlotte U.S. Rep. Mel Watt, a Democrat. Says the alert: "...it is entirely inappropriate for a politician to fill this role who has explicitly advocated for greater involvement by the federal government in the mortgage industry."

CHARLOTTE HAS LITTLE INCOME MOBILITY: The New York Times made Charlotte one of its prime examples of cities where children born into poor families have little chance of rising to become high earners in a story that gained a lot of traction online Monday. In fact, much of the South scored low in terms of income mobility, as the Times refers to it. Why? Well, the researchers who put together the data aren't sure. Findings included that cities where poor families live in mixed-income communities do better.

BOFA EXPANDING HIGH-TECH BRANCHES: Bank of America has opened another "flagship" branch in Boston that are in a new, streamlined and tech-driven format. The first was in uptown Charlotte at 100 N. Tryon. These branches have laptop terminals for customers, tablets for bank employees, and special rooms for different product specialists.

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Financial headlines

HEDGE FUNDS PUSH INTO LENDING: As banks' credit standards remain tight, hedge funds are filling the gap by lending to struggling companies, the Wall Street Journal says. These shadow banking operations charge higher interest rates. Says one jewelry store chain executive to the WSJ: "Banks are not an alternative... These guys have stepped into that void…For us, if you get into a position of a little jeopardy, that's where it all goes wrong. Once you stumble, it becomes perpetual. You can't get out."

FIRST-TIME HOMEOWNER RATES SLOWING: The percentage of homes bought by first-time homebuyers has slowed to about 30 percent, from a historical average of 40 percent, the Wall Street Journal reports. Part of it is student loan debt, but another part is that people who need financing are finding it hard to compete with large investors paying cash for homes. Experts worry that the fading of this bedrock of the housing market will impede the recovery.

CHINESE FINANCIAL REFORM: China's move to end the floor on bank interest rates on loans could be a first step toward broader change, The New York Times says. It might be too late, however, to head off the economic slowing that's already worrying investors.

DEUTSCHE BANK COULD CUT COSTS: Some analysts say the German bank could jump on the same cost-cutting bandwagon that Bank of America has been on for a while now, The New York Times reports.

Around Bank Town

ON THE FRONT PAGE: Moral Monday protesters rally against voter ID bill .... Judge says Carolinas HealthCare System can keep settlement with Wachovia a secret ...

THE COMMUTE: Our news partner WCNC says there's a wreck on I-77 N at Westinghouse.

PUBLIX TO OPEN IN MINT HILL: It will be the fifth location in the Charlotte area. The new store is expected to open next year.

MCCRORY MEDIATING AIRPORT DISPUTE: After staying somewhat neutral for a while, Gov. Pat McCrory called a meeting between the city of Charlotte and airport authority backers on Monday. They decided not to tell the public what happened at the meeting, though.

NEW DISTRICT 1 MEMBER: Billy Maddalon, who owns two bed-and-breakfasts in Plaza Midwood, will fill Patsy Kinsey's seat on city council through the fall election.