Financial Daily Dose 9.10.2021 | Top Story: OCC Hammers Wells Fargo with $250M Fine Over Noncompliance

September 10, 2021

We thought that more regulatory action was in the offing for Wells Fargo, and the OCC definitely delivered, hitting Wells on Thursday with an additional $250 million fine for “unsatisfactory remedial progress” in addressing problems stemming from its sham account scandal. The bank has been operating under a 2018 consent agreement that arose in the wake of a series of scandals and under which it was required to develop a program aimed at, among other things, keeping customers from losing their homes  - Law360 and WSJ and Bloomberg

The Biden administration is hoping to quash the rapidly spreading Delta variant through an aggressive new vaccination plan that will rely on OSHA to “draft a rule mandating that all businesses with 100 or more workers require their employees to either get vaccinated against the coronavirus or face mandatory weekly testing” and will instruct millions of federal employees and contractors to get vaccinated. The move could impact “some 80 million workers” - NYTimes and WSJ and Bloomberg and MarketWatch and Marketplace

ECB President Christine Lagarde announced plans this week to “moderately” reduce its bond-buying program begun in response to the coronavirus pandemic—the kind of slow-roll tapering that the Federal Reserve is kicking around itself, possibly as early as the end of this year - NYTimes and WSJ and MarketWatch

A recent essay from retired Chinese newspaper editor Li Gaungman “railing at celebrity culture and misbehaving corporations” that “ricocheted across China’s internet” and spread across “at least five major Communist Party-run news websites” has kicked off some fascinating speculation about just how high up in the party support for Mr. Li’s screed goes. And, as important for our purposes, whether any of that support will translate into continued or even more aggressive crackdowns on Chinese businesses and celebrities - NYTimes

Amazon revealed a new policy in which it will “pay college tuition for more than 750,000 U.S. employees, as the battle for hourly workers escalates beyond minimum wages.” The perk kicks in after 90 days on the job and “will cover the cost of tuition and books for staff pursuing bachelor’s degrees at various [as yet unnamed] universities nationwide” - WSJ and Bloomberg

U.S. jobless filings dropped dramatically last week to around 310,000, continuing a “downward trend” since mid-July, as “demand for labor remains high and employers hold onto workers despite the Delta variant.” Jobless claims still outpace pre-pandemic averages by nearly 100k each week - WSJ

Epic Games is shuttering its pandemic-popular video-chat app Houseparty, citing work on other games and apps that is preventing the company from giving “the app or our community the attention it deserves” - WSJ and Bloomberg and TechCrunch

Federal authorities have arrested and charged three former managers of Biscayne Capital for their alleged roles in “running a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme that is the subject of a civil lawsuit against Deutsche Bank AG” - Bloomberg and Law360

Thoughts on how a growing skills gap—particularly in the trades and other fields like transportation and energy—could pose a massive challenge any infrastructure bill that the White House manages to work through Congress - NYTimes

Ford Motors is closing up shop and cashing out of its “long and costly effort to build a presence” in India, one of “the world’s largest emerging auto markets.” Ford has spent the better part of a decade trying to build out its operations there, losing $2 billion in the process - NYTimes and Bloomberg

Why most 60s and 70s-era pedestrian malls couldn’t hack it in the U.S. (but could help “open street” efforts of today actually survive) - Bloomberg

Stay safe, get vaxxed, and have a great weekend,