The Word on the Street:
Fed tells JPMorgan, Goldman to Improve Capital Plans/Reuters: "The Federal Reserve told Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase that they must fix flaws in how they determine capital payouts to shareholders, but still approved their plans for share buybacks and dividends. In the second phase of the Fed's annual stress tests of the 18 largest U.S. banks, the regulator said on Thursday that it had approved 14 firms' capital plans without any strings attached. The Fed vetoed submissions by BB&T and Ally Financial."
Facebook to Introduce Hashtags - And That's a Double-Edged Sword for Twitter/All Things D: "...But drilling down on the hashtag specifically is a direct affront to Twitter, potentially dipping into Twitter's valuable ad dollar territory. Look at it this way: Imagine the power, Twitter would say, of an advertiser sticking an ad in a user's face at the exact time they want to see it. If a user follows a hashtag about, say, #desserts, a company like Hostess could sell ads against anyone who searches that hashtag, sticking a promoted tweet for their delightful pink Sno-Balls in front of everyone following the hashtag. It's a practice that's slowly catching on for the advertisers who can understand it (but not every brand is totally up to speed on how to best advertise on Twitter). Facebook, on the other hand, can't tap into that trending sentiment quite as effectively. While the company does attempt to place relevant ads in the News Feed and lower-right-rail to reach its users, it would do better to let people dig deeper into trends across categories. So blatantly ripping off Twitter makes some sense here. And Facebook has hinted that this could be a reality for the site. In January, the company debuted Graph Search, the nascent way of digging deep into Facebook by making connections through the Friend Graph. Also, Instagram has used hashtags for some time, though that seems to have grown out of the language of Twitter. Essentially, edging in on Twitter's advertising territory by offering a better way to connect ads to users could spell trouble for Twitter. But there's a glass-half-full way of looking at this."
Facebook Hashtags: a Play For Real-Time Ad Dollars/Ad Age: "...There are obvious implications for ad targeting, since Facebook will theoretically now have a much better signal to identify highly engaged TV viewers watching a real-time event like the Oscars or the NBA Finals if hashtags are widely adopted. However, it's also possible that Facebook's foray into hashtags has much more to do with data and building out its graph search product than with ads (for now). Graph search is currently reliant on the "like" as an expression of interest, but likes are flawed signals, since users sometimes click on them arbitrarily or to satisfy a social obligation. But posting with a hashtag could be seen as a more tangible expression of affinity and could thus help to make graph search into a useful product."
Senate Report Blasts JPMorgan Executives, Including Dimon, Over 'Whale'/CNBC: "Nearly a year after a series of botched credit trades cost JPMorgan Chase billions of dollars, a U.S.Senate report argues that the bank misled both regulators and investors about the nature and size of the losses and that derivatives still pose a significant threat to the financial system. JPMorgan's "London Whale" trade, as the series of corporate-credit derivative trades that led to at least $6.2 billion in losses last year have come to be called, "provides a startling and instructive case history of how synthetic credit derivatives have become a multi billion-dollar source of risk within the U.S. banking system," the 301-page report issued by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said. Ina Drew, who ran the chief investment office within JPMorgan's investment bank where the trades occurred and former chief financial officer Doug Braunstein, are singled out for particular criticism. The report also raises sharp questions about the behavior of JPMorgan employees at a variety of levels - including Chief Executive Jamie Dimon."
February Game Sales Down 25 percent, NPD Reports/Seattle Times: "February was another rough month for retail sales of game hardware and packaged software, according to NPD's monthly report. Sales of physical video games, hardware and accessories in the U.S. fell 25 percent to $810 million, including a 36 percent drop in hardware sales and 27 percent drop in software sales. Accessory sales were only down 3 percent. NPD analyst Liam Callahan noted that with the rise of digital game sales, sales of physical game products are now about 50 percent of the market."
Chinese Vitamin-C Suppliers Found Liable for Price-Fixing/WSJ: "Chinese manufacturers of vitamin C offered an unusual legal defense for why they shouldn't be found liable for price fixing in a recent civil trial: Their government made them do it. A federal jury in Brooklyn didn't buy it. On Thursday, after less than a day of deliberations, it found Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical and affiliated company North China Pharmaceutical Group liable for fixing prices on vitamin C for several years. It was the first time Chinese companies had been on trial in the U.S. for alleged antitrust violations, according to Boies, Schiller & Flexner's William Isaacson, who represented U.S. vitamin C buyers that brought the price-fixing allegations. The judge in the case ordered the companies to pay $162 million in damages, triple what the jury had awarded. Antitrust violations like price-fixing are subject to treble damages."This verdict shows that companies in China are going to have to play by the same rules as everybody else," Mr. Isaacson said."