GE Capital Buys Citigroup's Retail Loans

General Electric unit GE Capital announced Tuesday that it had acquired the retail finance portfolios from Citigroup's Retail Partner Cards to add $1.6 billion in managed assets. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but GE Capital expects it will immediately add to earnings.

Mortgage Applications Drop 1.4%

Mortgage applications fell 1.4% in the week ending Sept. 17, dragged down by a decline in the number of applications for loans to purchase houses. Applications for loans to purchase a home dropped 3.3% from a week earlier on a seasonally adjusted basis, The Mortgage Bankers Association said. Applications for loans to refinance a home dropped 0.9%.

Bank of America Reportedly Planning Layoffs

Bank of America (BAC) is laying off as many as 400 people as revenue from trading and advising clients falls. Bank of America, the country%u2019s largest bank by assets, is laying off people ranging from junior analysts to managing directors, Bloomberg News said without naming its sources.

Citigroup May Sell Student Loan Corp. to Sallie Mae Consortium

Citigroup (C) plans to sell its student-lending unit Student Loan Corp. to a consortium including Sallie Mae as early as today, The New York Post reported. Citigroup owns 80% of the company, with another 20% being publicly traded. It is the country%u2019s second-largest student lender, after Sallie Mae.

Why Basel III's New Bank Capital Rules May Be Irrelevant

International bankers are hammering out the Basel III agreement, which will require banks to keep more capital in reserve relative to what they invest. It's a good idea, and one that would cushion the financial system from the next bust -- if the rules weren't being pushed so far into the future.

Loan Approval Rate Expected to Drop as Applications Rise

Approval rates for bank loans will likely fall as the number of applications increase over the next six months, according to a recent survey of banking professionals released today by Fair Isaac and Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.

Fed Asks Court to Delay Release of Bank Bailout Documents

The Federal Reserve Board asked an appeal court to delay the court-ordered release of documents that would identify banks that might have failed without support from the U.S. government. The Fed asked the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York to delay the release while it consults with the Department of Justice about a possible appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Bloomberg News reported.

Fed Adopts New Mortgage Rules to Protect Consumers

The Federal Reserve adopted new standards that ban yield spread premiums on mortgages, a practice that critics say led to homebuyers being saddled with unfairly high mortgage rates. The premiums involve lenders paying a bonus to mortgage brokers who brought them customers willing to pay high interest rates on loans, The New York Times reported. Critics say this practice led to brokers forcing high-interest loans on borrowers, telling them it was the best deal they could get.

Agricultural Bank of China Sets World Record for IPO

The Agricultural Bank of China raised a world record $22.1 billion in its July IPO after exercising an overallotment option. China%u2019s main rural lender sold an extra 3.34 billion shares at the IPO price of 2.68 yuan (39 cents) per share through the overallotment option on its Shanghai offering, The Associated Press reported.

European Central Bank Keeps Rates Low

It may be because of the slowing European economy, the drive for austerity by the continent's national governments, or planned tax increases. But whatever the reasons, the European Central Bank said Thursday it would hold its benchmark interest rate steady at 1%.

Ben Bernanke Encourages Banks to Make 'Good Loans'

Regulators must do all they can to help banks make loans to creditworthy borrowers, especially small businesses, a development that's critical to strengthening the economic recovery, the Federal Chairman said Thursday.

Reinventing Banks: U.S. Needs Deposit-Only Institutions

What bothers finance expert Peter Cohan about the way the consumer banking system is set up now is this: We put our money in banks because we want a safer place to keep it than under the mattress -- but that isn't what we really get. Here's his idea for a better alternative.

JPMorgan Preview: Less Banking, More Loans

When JPMorgan Chase reports earnings early Wednesday, analysts expect it to show earnings of 64 cents per share, up from 40 cents last year. Fees from investment banking will likely drop, but stronger loans could be a help.

Banks Reduce Lending, Slowing Recovery

Banks continue to show their disdain for Main Street, as they posted their sharpest decline in lending since 1942, even though the bonus levels of the largest banks are projected to rise 17%. This weak lending will slow any prospects for growth in consumer spending and jobs.

Modifying Homeowners' Loans - and Their Behavior

It's been well-reported that mortgage loan modifications are moving like molasses at big banks. But a little company called Ocwen Financial is using behavioral science to remove the stumbling blocks that get in the way of people trying to keep their homes.

Obama's Budget: Jobs Now, Lower Debt Later

President Obama's budget plan for 2011 includes about $100 billion in spending to address the issues of unemployment and economic weakness. The funds will go to small-business tax cuts, social safety net programs, aid to states, and investments in clean energy and infrastructure.

Why Politics Makes It Hard to Fix the Banks

Banks are not the enemy. Although many imperfections exist in our financial system, turning banks into a target or a tool for recovery will end poorly. Over time, things will work out in the absence of counterproductive, even if well-intentioned, meddling.

How China Could Boost the Dollar and Yen

With China reining in credit and moving to slow down its red-hot economic growth, both the yen and the dollar are rising as investors look for less risky places to park their money.

Earnings Preview: BofA, Wells and Morgan Stanley

Bank of America and Well Fargo are expected to post losses while Morgan Stanley is seen reporting a profit on Wednesday. Less certain is what the newly minted CEOs at BofA and Morgan Stanley are going to tell investors about vision and strategy.

Funding a Small Business

Tim Ferguson, co-founder of merchant bank Next Street, chats with WalletPop's Lan Nguyen about the many ways entrepreneurs and small business owners...