Mar 12, 2019

What Wall Street wants from Wells Fargo's testimony to Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan will likely face a grilling today when he testifies before the House Financial Services Committee, led by Rep. Maxine Waters, but if history is any guide the hearing will make little difference to Wall Street.

What it means: It's the company's fourth appearance on the Hill since the bank's cross-selling scandal came to light in 2016. Previous hearings haven’t moved its share price to the downside.

For example, when now-ousted CEO John Stumpf testified before the Senate Banking Committee in 2016, shares finished the day higher by 1.2%. When Sloan faced the same group of lawmakers a year later, shares closed up then too.

  • "The only thing [Wall street] wants to hear is silence. What they want to see is Wells Fargo going back to delivering the goods and no more headlines," Christopher Whalen, veteran banking analyst and founder of the Institutional Risk Analyst, tells Axios.

Wells Fargo has missed out on the broader bank industry's stock rally, thanks to a snowball of bad news and lost confidence in the company over the past few years, though Wells has outlined plans to clean up its act and improve company culture.

The big picture: But Wells' biggest obstacle has been the revelation in January that it will have to operate under the Fed's mandated asset growth cap for the rest of this year, longer than initially estimated.

  • That's a key issue Wall Street is watching and it's sure to come up in the hearing, but no new news is expected on that front.

Of note: Almost all of Wells Fargo's businesses are under investigation by a government agency, as the Wall Street Journal points out.

The bottom line: The appearance before Congress will likely be contentious, and that will probably be the case when Sloan testifies again next month alongside the other big bank CEOs.

  • Bonus: Wells Fargo isn't apologizing this time in its opening statement. Unlike in previous testimonies by Sloan and his predecessor, the words "sorry," "apologize" and "regret" are notably missing from today's planned remarks to Congress.

Go deeper: Maxine Waters targets global banks with Financial Services shakeup

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,014,673 — Total deaths: 52,973 — Total recoveries: 210,335Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 244,678 — Total deaths: 5,911 — Total recoveries: 9,058Map.
  3. 2020 updates: The Democratic National Committee said its July convention will be postponed until August because of the coronavirus. A federal judge declined to delay Wisconsin's April 7 primary election.
  4. Jobs latest: Coronavirus unemployment numbers are like a natural disaster hitting every state.
  5. Public health latest: Anthony Fauci called for all states across the U.S. to issue stay-at-home orders. The FDA will allow blood donations from gay men after 3-month waiting period, citing "urgent need."
  6. Business latest: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said oil companies are eligible for aid from new lending programs the Federal Reserve is setting up, but not direct loans from his department.
  7. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Navy removes captain of aircraft carrier who sounded alarm about coronavirus.
  8. 1 future thing: In developing countries, consequences of COVID-19 could be deeper and far more difficult to recover from.
  9. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Mark Meadows considers new White House press secretary

Photos: Alyssa Farah, Defense Department; Stephanie Grisham, Alex Wong/Getty Images; Kayleigh McEnany, Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has privately discussed bringing on Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah or Trump campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany as a new White House press secretary, two sources familiar with the talks tell Axios.

Why it matters: Meadows' start on Tuesday as Trump's new chief — and televised coronavirus briefings that feature President Trump himself — present a chance to overhaul a press shop that's kept a low profile since President Trump ended the tradition of daily press secretary briefings.

CNN: Fauci advises all states issue stay-at-home orders

Dr. Anthony Fauci listens to President Trump speak during a briefing on April 1. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci recommended on Thursday that all states across the U.S. implement stay-at-home orders, at a CNN town hall.

Why it matters: The recommendation stands in contrast to President Trump's calls for "flexibility." Nearly 4o states have issued stay-at-home orders to promote social distancing as a way to combat the novel coronavirus — but the orders vary in strictness and duration.

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