BBA Brief

BBA brief is a round up of each morning’s banking policy news prepared by the BBA’s media team. It is a selection of the articles in the papers and broadcast stories. The content does not reflect the views of the BBA.

18th Jul 2016 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 18 July 2016

    Dombrovskis focuses on London’s euro trading position

    Valdis Dombrovskis, European Union Commissioner for financial services, has stated that it is “too early to draw conclusions” about euro trading activity moving from London (FT, £, p6). Mr Dombrovskis also said that he would pursue “continuity” with the agenda of his predecessor Lord Hill. He also highlighted the importance of the capital markets union initiative: “With the possibility of the EU’s biggest capital market actually leaving the EU, this task becomes even more urgent and even more relevant.”

    Bankers fear new industry tax raid

    The Sunday Telegraph (B3) reports that leading bankers are concerned about the Government potentially imposing a new tax on the sector to shore up the public finances following the EU referendum vote. An unnamed senior executive at a major bank said: “There will be a tax cost to the Treasury if the economy slowdown and revenues fall. We got a reprieve on the bank levy last year, so perhaps that benefit could be reversed.” The Office for Budget Responsibility predicted the banks would pay £2.9 billion this financial year on the levy, with the rate falling to £2.2 billion by 2020-21.

    UK to launch free trade talks

    The Daily Mail (p4) reports that the Government is aiming to secure ground-breaking free trade deals with zones ten times the size of the EU before Britain leaves in 2019. Liam Fox, the new International Trade Secretary, is due to fly to the US in the coming days for tentative talks while he also had discussions with the Canadian Trade Minister last Friday. Mr Fox said: “We’ve already had a number of countries saying: we’d love to do a trade deal with the world’s fifth-biggest economy without having to deal with the other 27 members of the EU” (Sunday Times, £, p1).

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15th Jul 2016 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 15 July 2016

    Bank of England holds interest rates

    The Bank of England yesterday kept interest rates unchanged at 0.5 per cent despite speculation that it would cut them for the first time since March 2009 (BBC News). The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee voted 8-1 to hold rates, leading to sterling climbing by more than two cents against the dollar immediately after the announcement. The Bank said: “Most members of the committee expect monetary policy to be loosened in August. The precise size and nature of any stimulatory measures will be determined during the August forecast and Inflation Report round.” The Times (£, p39) notes that any additional stimulus will be set out alongside the Bank’s inflation report on 4 August.

    European lenders face up to €40 billion capital bill

    A report from the Boston Consulting Group has claimed that European banks could be forced to put as much as €40 billion of extra capital into their UK branches as a result of the EU referendum vote (FT, £, p16). The report also said that Brexit will trigger an 8-22 per cent rise in annual costs for the banks’ capital markets divisions, which may prompt banks to withdraw from some activities. The report states: “Clearly, the ability of banks to centre their operations and maintain scale in a single, well-capitalised London entity is now uncertain […] The additional benefits of liquid, robust markets and access to talent as well as clients may be eroded.”

    MPs warn over money laundering

    The Home Affairs Committee has criticised the Government and the National Crime Agency for failing to prevent the UK property market being exploited by international money launderers (Guardian, p11). Keith Vaz, the committee’s Chairman, said “The proceeds of crime legislation has failed. London is a centre for money laundering, and its standing as a global financial centre is dependent on proactively and effectively tackling money laundering. Investment in London properties is a major route which tarnishes the image of the capital. Supervision of the property market is totally inadequate.” The MPs also called for a new criminal offence to be created for refusing to hand over money and assets derived from crime (BBC News).

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14th Jul 2016 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 14 July 2016

    Bank of England set to make interest rate decision

    The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet today with economists predicting that it will cut interest rates from 0.5 per cent to 0.25 per cent (BBC News). The Times (£, p41) reports that a cut would mark the first shift of the base rate since March 2009. Gerard Lyons, an Economist at Netwealth Investments, said: “There is a case for interest rates to fall. There is a need to protect against downside risk.” The Bank may also restart quantitative easing, in addition to or instead of a rate cut.

    New Prime Minister appoints cabinet

    Theresa May has taken over as Prime Minister and set about naming her frontbench team (Times, £, p1). Among the most notable appointments were Philip Hammond replacing George Osborne as Chancellor, Boris Johnson taking over as Foreign Secretary, and David Davis heading a new department dedicated to taking the UK out of the European Union. Mr Hammond told the Today programme (skip to 02:18:00) this morning that: “We have got to make sure in our negotiations with the European Union we have very clearly in our minds the need to ensure access to European Union Single Market for our financial services industry.” David Cameron was given a standing ovation by Conservative MPs after his final Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday (BBC News).

    Homes market gives mixed message

    The Times (£, p41) reports that a number of housing surveys delivered mixed messages yesterday. The Council of Mortgage Lenders said homeowners borrowed £9.4 billion in May, a 15 per cent month-on-month rise. The CML said that the property market had been “regaining some equilibrium” and that for lenders it was “business as usual”. However, the latest Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors survey showed interest across the country falling significantly last month because of the Brexit vote. Simon Rubinsohn, Chief Economist at RICS, said: “Big events such as elections typically unsettle markets, so it is no surprise that the EU referendum has been associated with a downturn in activity.”

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13th Jul 2016 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 13 July 2016

    Theresa May set to become Prime Minister

    David Cameron will stand down as Prime Minister later today, with Theresa May set to replace him (Telegraph, p1). Mr Cameron said: “As I leave today, I hope people will see a stronger country, a thriving economy, and more chances to get on in life.” He will tender his resignation to the Queen after Prime Minister’s Questions. Meanwhile, Labour’s National Executive Committee has ruled that Jeremy Corbyn should automatically be included in the leadership contest (BBC News). Pontypridd MP Owen Smith has announced he will stand in the contest.

    Carney lays ground for new round of monetary stimulus

    Mark Carney, the Bank of England Governor, has said steps to strengthen bank balance sheets after the financial crisis meant there “won’t be a credit crunch”, but stressed that demand for loans depended on the economy (Telegraph, B5). Mr Carney said: “We have been talking to the banks […] and their orientation is outward facing, their balance sheets are in strong positions, they are in the business of taking on risk […] If they have to, they may adjust their risk profit, but they have a lot of capital and they need to put it to work” (Telegraph, B5). He also told the Treasury Select Committee that it is “important” that he and the Chancellor can have private conversations after being challenged about his discussions on Brexit (BBC News).

    Foreign Secretary speaks at BBA Summer Reception

    Bloomberg reports that Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said that he will work to support the financial services industry during discussions following the European Union referendum vote. Speaking at the BBA’s Summer Reception, Mr Hammond acknowledged that “financial services industry is probably the most directly affected” by a Brexit and said “we will do our bit to get you the certainty you crave.” He also added: “I know and understand the importance of passporting.” Nick Robinson also featured Mr Hammond’s speech in a package on the Today programme (skip to 1:37:00).

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12th Jul 2016 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 12 July 2016

    Theresa May set to become Prime Minister

    Theresa May will take over as Prime Minister from David Cameron on Wednesday evening after she was announced as the new Conservative leader last night (BBC News). Mr Cameron announced yesterday that he would chair his final cabinet meeting today before standing down after Prime Minister’s Questions.  Andrea Leadsom pulled out of the race to succeed Mr Cameron leaving the path clear for her rival Ms May. Separately, Angela Eagle has formally launched a leadership challenge against the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (Guardian, p7).

    Banks sign up to Women in Finance Charter

    The FT (£, p23) reports that more than 70 banks and other City firms have signed up to the Government’s Women in Finance Charter. The charter set a number of voluntary commitments designed to improve gender balance at financial companies following recommendations by Jayne-Anne Gadhia, the Chief Executive of Virgin Money. Harriett Baldwin, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said: “By signing the charter, firms are committing to driving change at the senior levels of the male-dominated financial services industry. Such widespread commitment will make a genuine difference to gender diversity in financial services” (Guardian, online only). BBA Chief Executive Anthony Browne wrote a blog on the Women in Finance Charter in May.

    Treasury Select Committee to question Bank of England

    Bank of England Governor Mark Carney will appear before the Treasury Select Committee this morning in the first appearance since the UK voted to leave the European Union (Times, £, p42). He is likely to face questions over the direction of interest rates, the current account deficit and the fall in sterling. Richard Sharp, an external member of the Financial Policy Committee, will also attend the session.

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11th Jul 2016 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 11 July 2016

    Bank of England set to cut interest rate

    The Sunday Telegraph (B1) reports that the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee will cut interest rates when it meets on Thursday amid concerns over an economic slowdown. It is also expected that the Bank will launch a new round of quantitative easing to boost growth. The FT (£, p3) notes that Governor Mark Carney has previously highlighted the limits of monetary policy, stating that “as we have seen elsewhere, if interest rates are too low (or negative), the hit to bank profitability could perversely reduce credit or even increase its overall price.” 

    May promises crackdown on big business

    Theresa May has pledged to reform executive pay and install employees on company boards as she launches her national campaign to become Prime Minister (Times, £, p1). The Home Secretary states that too few people are sharing in the country’s economic success and more needs to be done to tackle irresponsible behaviour by big business. The Sun (p2) notes that the directors of Britain’s top 100 companies now earn 120 times the average sum earned by their employees, compared to 47 times more in 2000.

    Chancellor begins world tour to reassure investors

    Chancellor George Osborne has begun a world tour designed to reassure international investors about doing business with the UK following the vote to leave the European Union (Telegraph, B3). Mr Osborne is visiting New York today and will next week travel to Singapore and China. He said: “My message to the world is that Britain may be leaving the EU, but we are not quitting the world. We will continue to be a beacon for free trade, democracy and security, more open to that world than ever.”

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8th Jul 2016 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 8 July 2016

    US investment banks show support for London

    Following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, five top US investment banks have said they will “keep working to promote London and its position as a leading financial centre,” (Telegraph b1). The banks – which include Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan – made the joint statement with Chancellor George Osborne following a meeting on Thursday. Reuters referred to the legacy of London’s established financial sector, but added that banks “made no commitment” about keeping jobs in Britain.

    May and Leadsom in final round of leadership race

    After the second MPs’ ballot for the Conservative leadership, Home Secretary Theresa May and Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom are the final two candidates in the running (Guardian p1). The vote, which was announced yesterday evening, means the UK will have its first female Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher. The Telegraph (p1) reported that Leadsom is likely to attract Eurosceptic activists who want a “Brexit Prime Minister,” whilst the Times (p1) reported that May, who was backed by 199 MPs, has support from “left and right, leavers and remainers”.

    Italian banks facing turmoil

    The New York Times reports that Italian banks are “spreading fear through global financial markets,” as they’re faced with non-performing loan portfolios, estimated to be around €360 billion – the equivalent of a fifth of the country’s GDP. The Wall Street Journal suggests the crisis is due to “clubby” relationships with regulators and politicians who’ve shielded against “takeovers, competition, layoffs or consolidation,” and that attempts to improve this have been “half-hearted.” The FT (online only) suggests the UK’s decision to leave the EU has exacerbated Italy’s problem, having “pushed equity and bond prices even lower.”

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7th Jul 2016 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 7 July 2016

    EU urges Basel Committee to avoid disproportionate costs for banks

    Reuters reports that European Union Finance Ministers will issue a statement at their meeting next week urging the Basel Committee to avoid imposing a disproportionate increase of costs on European banks. Ministers will say “the reform package would not be expected to result in a significant increase in the overall capital requirements for the European banking sector.” In a joint document, the French and German banking federations said the new rules as they stand “may mean that the capital requirements for banks will rise in some cases by up to a further 50 per cent.”

    NCA warns over cyber threat

    Criminals are outpacing UK businesses and law enforcement in “cyber arms race”, according to the National Crime Agency. It said there were 2.46 million ‘cyber incidents’ last year, including 700,000 frauds. The NCA highlighted the threat posed “by a few hundred international cyber criminals”, who exploit businesses through malware-facilitated fraud. The Government is to spend £1.9 billion over the next five years on cyber security.

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6th Jul 2016 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – July 2016

    Bank of England highlights financial stability risks

    The Bank of England has outlined a number of risks to the UK economy following the European Union referendum vote (BBC News). Governor Mark Carney said there was a “challenging” outlook ahead, with yesterday’s Financial Stability Report raising concerns over the commercial property market and household debt. The Bank’s Financial Policy Committee also relaxed capital requirements for banks to ensure the availability of credit for households and businesses. Mr Carney said: “If there is a slowdown in credit, it will be demand driven, not supply driven. It’s important to ensure that there is no question about the availability of credit. It is the one thing we want to take off the table.” (FT, £, p2). The Bank also intends to encourage “the Basel Committee to review carefully any possible unintended effects of forthcoming leverage ratio standards” on market liquidity (FT, £, pX).

    First round of voting in Conservative Party leadership election

    Theresa May last night secured a clear winning margin over her rivals in the first round of voting to become the next Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister (Times, £, p1). The Home Secretary polled more votes from MPs than the other four candidates combined, leading to Liam Fox being automatically eliminated and Stephen Crabb deciding to pull out of the contest. A second ballot tomorrow will decide the final run-off, with either Andrea Leadsom or Michael Gove expected to be eliminated. The contest will be decided by more than 150,000 Tory members.

    Business Secretary calls for emergency tax cuts

    Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, has called for urgent tax cuts to boost the economy following the EU referendum vote (FT, £, p2). Mr Javid admitted that a new fiscal stimulus could lead to the budget deficit widening but said it was necessary to encourage investment. He also urged the UK to take advantage of cheap borrowing rates to create a ‘Growing Britain’ fund worth up to £100 billion.

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5th Jul 2016 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 5 July 2016

    Bank of England set to publish Financial Stability Report

    There is widespread coverage anticipating measures that the Bank of England may take when it publishes the Financial Stability Report later this morning. The Chancellor yesterday stated that the Bank and the Treasury could pump up the Funding for Lending Scheme in an attempt to boost the economy after the Brexit vote (Telegraph, p4). The Guardian (online only) also reports that the Bank could reverse plans to increase the countercyclical capital buffer for banks to 0.5 per cent of risk-weighted assets from March 2017.

    London’s role in euro clearing in the spotlight

    The FT (£, p32) looks at the potential impact on London’s role in euro clearing if passporting rights are withdrawn following the European Union referendum vote. Dirk Schoenmaker, Senior Fellow at think-tank Bruegel, said: “The potential impact for the City of London is that up to 69 per cent of its interest rate derivatives market could move to continental Europe after Brexit.” Euro-denominated swaps trading represents a third of the global interest rate derivatives market, according to data from the Bank for International Settlements. The UK is home to the majority of the euro business.

    Investment banking fees drop

    Investment banking fees in the UK and Ireland dropped by more than a quarter in the first half of 2016, according to Thomson Reuters (City AM, p2). UK and Ireland fees totalled $2.5 billion in 2015, down 28 per cent, while Europe as a whole was down 26 per cent. Ian Gordon, Investec’s head of banks research, said: “[It] provides a foretaste for an extremely challenging outlook for IB revenues going into the second half of this year and beyond – which will be met by further rounds of rationalisation and cost reduction.” He also highlighted the decline in mergers and acquisitions activity and initial public offerings.

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