Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Basketball Team That Never Takes a Bad Shot

The NBA’s most efficient offenses seek out layups and threes. A high school in Minnesota takes the idea to the extreme.

  Sophomore Nick Hansmann of the Pine City Dragons takes a 3-pointer.PHOTO: ANGELA JIMENEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL  

By Ben Cohen

PINE CITY, Minn.—Jake Rademacher made a mid-range jumper in a recent high-school basketball game. But as soon as the ball left his hands, even before it banked in, Rademacher knew it was a bad shot. And his team doesn’t take bad shots.

Pine City High School seeks out only the most valuable shots in basketball: from underneath the rim or beyond the 3-point line. They play as if they’re allergic to all the space in between.

On the night that Rademacher accidentally made his shot from the mid-range, Pine City attempted 64 field goals, and 62 were layups or threes. It was a remarkably ordinary game for the Dragons. Mid-range shots—the sport’s least efficient—account for only 4.2% of Pine City’s attempts. That’s lower than any NBA team or Division-I men’s college team and likely every high-school team in the nation.

“In all honesty,” said Pine City coach Kyle Allen, “that’s even higher than we want it to be.”

Read the full article here.

Citigroup Exiting Business of Servicing Mortgages

Bank selling servicing rights of about 780,000 mortgages to New Residential Investment Corp.


By Christina Rexrode
Updated Jan. 30, 2017

Citigroup Inc. on Monday said it will exit the mortgage-servicing business, turning its focus to mortgage originations.

The bank said it is selling servicing rights of about 780,000 mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to a unit of New Residential Investment Corp. New Residential, managed by an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group , said it is paying about $980 million.

Citigroup said the exit from mortgage servicing will reduce its first-quarter pretax earnings by $400 million, including a loss on the sale and other transaction costs. The bank said the move allows it to focus on originating mortgages, to cut expenses and to improve shareholder returns.

Read the full article here.

Cordray Says CFPB Will Continue Enforcement Mandate

Remarks come as Republicans and Trump administration look for ways to rein in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, testified before a Senate committee in September. PHOTO: PETE MAROVICH/BLOOMBERG NEWS

ByYuka Hayashi
Updated Jan. 24, 2017

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray said the watchdog would continue enforcement of existing consumer-protection rules at a steady and vigorous pace, and the arrival of the Trump administration “shouldn’t change the job at all.”

“It’s important to keep in mind that we are a law enforcement agency,” Mr. Cordray said in an interview at a WSJ Pro Financial Regulation event on Tuesday. “That’s an important part of what we do, and it…has to be kept separate from partisan politics.”

After filing enforcement actions at an unusually fast clip since December, Mr. Cordray said the bureau still had some major lawsuits pending.

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At Wells Fargo, Bank Branches Were Tipped Off to Inspections

Managers and employees at the bank’s roughly 6,000 branches across the U.S. typically had at least 24 hours’ warning about inspections conducted by risk employees

As Wells Fargo has been under fire since September when it entered a $185 million settlement and enforcement action with regulators and a city official over opening as many as 2.1 million accounts using fictitious or unauthorized information. PHOTO: BEN MARGOT/ASSOCIATED PRESS

By Emily Glazer
Updated Jan. 24, 2017 11:30 a.m. ET

As Wells Fargo& Co.’s sales-tactics scandal unfolded, investors, regulators and politicians asked how improper practices could have persisted for so long. One possible reason: Bank branches were given a heads up before Wells Fargo’s internal monitors landed for inspections.

Managers and employees at the bank’s roughly 6,000 branches across the U.S. typically had at least 24 hours’ warning about annual reviews conducted by risk employees, current and former Wells Fargo employees and executives said. That gave many employees time to cover up improper practices, such as opening accounts or signing customers up for products without their knowledge.

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The Hidden Effects of Jet Lag on Baseball Players

Northwestern University researchers found that jet-lagged pitchers give up more homers and that the effects of long flights can wipe out home-field advantage

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw reacts after giving up a solo home run to Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo in the MLB National League Championship Series. PHOTO: TANNEN MAURY/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

By Jared Diamond
Updated Jan. 24, 2017

When Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw allowed five runs in Game 6 of the NLCS, his disappointing outing was largely attributed to some combination of the Chicago Cubs’ powerful lineup and the general unpredictability of baseball. Researchers at Northwestern University have another theory: He might have been jet lagged.

According to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, teams traveling eastward at least two time zones give up more home runs than they otherwise would, offering insights into how the internal body clock affects performance.

Read the full article here.

Ford Takes Step Toward Online Car Shopping With Fintech Investment

The lending arm of Ford Motor Co. has tapped a San Francisco startup to make it easier for its customers to buy and finance a car without going into a showroom

By Peter Rudegeair


Ford Motor Credit Co. said Monday that it would use software developed by AutoFi Inc. to let car buyers shop for a Ford or Lincoln car and secure a loan online through its dealers’ websites.
As part of the new deal, Ford Motor Credit also announced an equity investment in AutoFi. It didn’t disclose the amount.

AutoFi doesn’t make any credit decisions or loans itself. The company operates a marketplace where dealers can select which banks, credit unions or other lenders can pitch loans to car buyers. Customers can choose among competing offers. AutoFi gets paid a fee by both the dealer and the lender if its service is used in a purchase.

Read the full article here.

Big Banks’ Results Show Strength

Earnings from J.P. Morgan, Bank of America and Wells Fargo benefit from increased market activity and improved credit quality

A customer uses a drive-through ATM outside a Bank of America branch in Miami. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG NEWS

Christina Rexrode, Peter Rudegeair and Emily Glazer
Updated Jan. 15, 2017

Earnings from the nation’s three biggest banks backed investor hopes that a Trump presidency would bring less regulation and stronger economic growth that reinvigorates the financial sector.
The fourth-quarter performance of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. was largely in line with what Wall Street had expected: Trading revenue was upbeat thanks to increased market activity and volatility following the election; expenses remain in intense focus; credit quality continues to improve; and a recent upward move in interest rates should eventually produce gains in banks’ income.

Investors viewed the results positively enough that they continued to nudge the banks’ stocks higher. Financial stocks have driven much of the post-election rally, notching gains more than three times those of the broader markets.

Read the full article here.

Mortgage Markets Don’t Share in Trump Election Bounce

Mortgage lenders had a bumpy ride in the fourth quarter, Mortgage Bankers Association data show

Total mortgage applications dropped 21% in the fourth quarter from the third as demand for refinances fell 31%, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. PHOTO: JOHN BAZEMORE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

By AnnaMariaAndriotis
Updated Jan. 11, 2017

Demand for mortgages fell substantially during the last three months of 2016 after rates spiked by more than half a percentage point in the wake of Donald Trump’s election. Total mortgage applications dropped 21% from the third quarter, led by demand for refinances which fell 31%, according to Mortgage Bankers Association data.

The numbers were up slightly when compared with the same period a year earlier, but not enough for mortgage lenders to close the year on an optimistic note.

Reduced mortgage demand in the wake of higher rates will likely be a recurring theme in fourth-quarter bank earnings, which kick off Friday. Analysts expect lower mortgage-banking earnings fueled by a mix of lower volume and a decline in profit margins.

Read the full article here.