Long-promised downgrades are set to kick in for Italian banks, Green Mountain’s chairman loses his post to margin call and, thankfully, new Charlotte ordinance barring crowbars at large events was passed in time for Bank of America’s annual meeting. All that and more, in today’s Wall Street roundup.
Scissor season: Moody’s is expected to begin cutting ratings on banks any day now, and Bloomberg notes the consequences: Higher funding costs, curbed lending and another thorn in the side of economic growth. According to a Moody’s note last month, Italian lenders are first on the chopping block, to be followed by banks in other European countries. U.S. banks will also come in for potential downgrades, but are unlikely to see ratings changes until June.
Banks in trouble: Spain is likely to require lenders to post an additional $45 billion in collateral against loans to the construction sector, Reuters reports, raising the likelihood of another injection of public cash. The Spanish government is expected to announce new demands after a cabinet meeting on Friday.
Meanwhile, Spanish banks are pushing their debt and equity on retail customers as larger investors pull back. The Journal worries that a vicious circle may be emerging: Fearing that losses would spook individual investors, banks have put off recognizing losses, exacerbating the tenuous position of Spanish banks, and the eventual reckoning for mom and pop.
Margin-roasted: Robert Stiller was relieved of his position as Green Mountain Coffee Roasters chairman after he sold 5 million shares in the company, worth $125.5 million, in a margin call. Green Mountain’s stock lost nearly half its value last week after the company reported disappointing earnings and amid calls by short sellers such as Greenlight Capital’s David Einhorn, and Deutsche Bank forced Mr. Stiller to sell shares to satisfy loans secured against his Green Mountain holdings.
BofA meets: The great unwashed are expected to descend on Charlotte, North Carolina today to protest Bank of America’s annual meeting, though it may be a toss-up as to whether the protestors bear the lender the most ill will. Other candidates: Recently jettisoned employees, refi applicants, holders of the company’s basement-dwelling stock. In case you were worried, city officials passed an ordinance in January prohibiting items “ranging from backpacks to crowbars” at large events. Hecklers interrupted a Bank of America presentation at the Citi Financial Services conference in New York in March, chanting “bust up Bank of America before it busts up America,” and at least 24 protestors were arrested at Wells Fargo’s annual meeting in San Francisco last month.
Americans not wanted: Wealth managers around the world are closing the door on American clients as the start date for rules to prevent tax evasion approaches. Beginning next year, foreign financial institutions must report information about income and interest accrued to the accounts of U.S. clients, raising compliance costs and limiting the options of Americans living abroad, according to Bloomberg. The IRS is holding a May 15 hearing, which could soften the implementation of the rules.
Tech banker: Michael Grimes, the banker who managed LinkedIn, Zynga and Groupon IPOs, spent years laying the ground work for Morgan Stanley’s lead role in the Facebook offering, and made his career winning over Silicon Valley with a more flexible approach to investment banking.
Red tape: And it still takes a long time to refinance a mortgage.