Tag Archive: Jamie Dimon

Mar 19 2013

JP Morgan’s Crime Spree

In a day long Senate hearing, Ina Drew, the former head of the chief investment office that oversaw the London trading operation, Braunstein, JP Morgan’s former chief financial officer,  acting chief risk officer Ashley Bacon and Peter Weiland, Chase’s former head of market risk, appeared to answer questions about it disastrous “London whale” trading loss. Along with high-ranking federal regulators, they face withering questions if front of Senator Carl Levin’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations a day after the committee release a damning 300-page report on JP Morgan’s $6.2bn debacle. While the report lays out the evidence that JP Morganwas plating fast and lose with regulations and investor’s money, the report is heavily redacted giving the appearance that even Sen. Levin’s committee is covering for Jamie Dimon and, perhaps higher ups in the White House, under the guise of “protecting the markets.”

In an article by Pam Martens at Wall Street On Parade, she partially reconstructs some of the missing pieces:

Although the “Redacted” stamp has censored much of the relevant information on this stock trading, a few snippets can be pieced together. We learn, for example, that the original budget proposed for stock trading in 2006 was twice that for credit trading. The plan was to trade a maximum of $5 million in credit derivatives and $10 million in stock trading – the specific type of stock transactions have been redacted from the document while those for credit trading have been left in. Since the notionals (face amount) of the credit derivatives eventually grew to hundreds of billions of dollars by early 2012, one has to wonder what the stock-related trading grew to from a proposed $10 million since it was originally slated to be twice as large as credit trading.

Another item that slips through is that “ETFs will also be treated as trading instruments.” ETF is an acronym for “Exchange Traded Fund,” portfolios of stocks that trade on stock exchanges. In a memo dated May 5, 2006 to Jason Hughes at JPMorgan from Roger J. Cole in the Compliance Department, we learn that there is a plan to trade stock market indices. The caveat is given by Cole that: “…compliance approval required before trading in credit/equity indices with less than 20 names as we discussed.”

She concludes that the Senate needs to release the redacted portions of the report to let in some “disinfecting sunshine.” The article also contains and excellent chart of the hierarchy of the International Chief Investment Office that was headed by Javier Martin-Artajo, that blogger bobswern at Daily Kos gives us further incite:

If you take a look at the organizational chart provided by Pam Martens, immediately above, it’s topped-off with Javier Martin-Artajo. The reality was that, at the time, Martin-Artajo reported to JPMC CIO head Ina Drew who, in turn, reported to JPMC CEO Jamie Dimon, among others.

I’ve italicized “others” in the paragraph above this because in-between Ms. Drew and Mr. Dimon was none other than William M. Daley, Vice Chairman of the JPMC Board of Directors, who was, among many other duties including that of chief (unregistered) lobbyist for the bank and Chair of the JPMC Board’s Risk Management Committee, also in charge of supervising the bank’s corporate governance, up until January 9th, 2011, when President Obama appointed Daley as his chief of staff, replacing current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in that job.

It was fairly widely reported, in early November 2011, that Bill Daley was tacitly demoted in his position as White House Chief of Staff, when he was required to share duties with Pete Rouse. Interestingly, in January 2012, around the time that the first, industry-circulated reports of JPMC’s CIO meltdown appeared in the blogosphere, it was then reported that Daley would be leaving 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, altogether, later that month.

The readers can draw their own conclusions from there.

Contributing Editor of Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi, live blogged the hearing giving some amusing observations. In a phone interview with Sam Seder of the Majority Report discussed the testimony:

Feb 28 2013

US Tax Payers Still Bailing Out TBTF

With sequestration looming, many Americans are still struggling to recover from the the 2008 recession that cost them billions in lost savings and jobs but not the banks who were the chief perpetrators for the housing crash. As a matter of fact, American tax payers are still bailing out the “Too Big To Jail” banks $83 billion a year:

So what if we told you that, by our calculations, the largest U.S. banks aren’t really profitable at all? What if the billions of dollars they allegedly earn for their shareholders were almost entirely a gift from U.S. taxpayers? [..]

Banks have a powerful incentive to get big and unwieldy. The larger they are, the more disastrous their failure would be and the more certain they can be of a government bailout in an emergency. The result is an implicit subsidy: The banks that are potentially the most dangerous can borrow at lower rates, because creditors perceive them as too big to fail. [..]

The top five banks — JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc [..] with almost $9 trillion in assets, more than half the size of the U.S. economy — would just about break even in the absence of corporate welfare. In large part, the profits they report are essentially transfers from taxpayers to their shareholders.

It is outrageous that Americans are being bludgeoned with $85 billion in austerity cuts that will most likely halt any recovery while handing banking shareholders an $83 billion gift.

During his appearance before the Senate Banking Committee, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was asked by freshman Sen. Elizabeth Warren about about the risks and fairness of having banks that are “too big to fail

Warren quizzed Bernanke on that study. “I understand that we’re all trying to get to the end of too big to fail, but my question, Mr. Chairman, is until we do, should those biggest financial institutions be repaying the American taxpayer that $83 billion subsidy that they’re getting?”

Bernanke responded, “The subsidy is coming because of market expectations that the government would bail out these firms if they failed. Those expectations are incorrect.”

After some back and forth, Warren countered, “$83 billion says there really will be a bailout for the largest institutions.”

“That’s the expectation of markets. But that doesn’t mean we have to do it,” Bernanke responded.

Warren insisted that the large banks should pay for the subsidy. “Ordinary folks pay for homeowners’ insurance, ordinary folks pay for car insurance, and these big financial institutions are getting cheaper borrowing to the tune of $83 billion in a single year simply because people believe that the government would step in and bail them out. I’m just saying, if they’re getting it, why shouldn’t they pay for it?” she said.

“I think we should get rid of it,” Bernanke said. He said he agreed with her that government should address the problem of “too big to fail.”

Meanwhile, as Chris in Paris at AMERICAblog points out these banking executives are the forefront of the attack on the social safety net:

You may recall Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, the guy who Obama has a strange bromance with, adjusted bonus payout dates in both the US and UK to avoid paying taxes. You know, as in the taxes that saved his entire lifestyle.

Even worse is Blankfein’s insistence on bashing programs that are critical to middle class Americans. It’s the Blankfeins of the world that want to take your Medicare and Social Security away.  God forbid we ran out of money and there weren’t any left to bail out the banks next time, right?

Then there’s my other favorite bankster, good old Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan. Dimon is the delightful fellow who ignored the warnings and ended up costing the bank, and our taxpayers, billions.

Since these banks really aren’t turning a profit without government welfare, what would JPMorgan look like without those handouts? For Dimon, banking rules that help protect taxpayers from bailing out the gambling banks are “un-American.”

The major bank chiefs have been quite vocal about trashing the social system, just as they trashed our economy. But when it comes to helping Americans, the banks have little interest beyond their next bailout.

Speaking of Jamie, our favorite vampire capitalist, “thoughtfully” explained why he’s richer than anyone else” in this exchange with Mike Mayo, an analyst at CLSA and Dimon critic:

Mayo: I think what I hear UBS saying in the presentation is that if I’m an affluent customer I’ll feel a lot better going to UBS if they have 13.5 (percent) capital ratio than another big bank with a 10 percent ratio. Do you agree with that?

Dimon: You would go to UBS and not JPMorgan?

Mayo: I didn’t say that. That’s their argument.

Dimon: That’s why I’m richer than you. [..]

FDL New Desk‘s DSWright found Dimon’s response arrogant but indicative of something even more offensive:

Dimon is right, he did get rich having low capital ratios – which is why his form of banking is dangerous. It’s the precise reason the banks could not protect themselves during the crisis, they were over-leveraged.

   “The real issue isn’t who is rich, but rather whose interests are being fairly served and whose aren’t. Dimon’s approach gives short shrift to both shareholders and taxpayers. Taxpayers still carry substantial risks for which they are not being compensated, a state that will only change when regulations are tightened, and hopefully vastly simplified.

   Shareholders do badly because the kind of bank Dimon runs is prone to loss and volatility, leading markets to set a low value on the bank’s earnings.”

Mathematician Albert Einstein said that doing the same thing over and over expecting different results was the definition of insanity. Continuing to bail out these banks on tax payer’s “dime” when there is no evidence that breaking them up would harm the economy is just insane.

Jul 19 2012

LIBOR: There Will Be No Prosecutions

LIBOR If you think for that the Justice Department in this administration is going to prosecute or regulate any of the people who were involved in the LIBOR scandal, erase that thought. Regardless of any evidence the government may have now or in the future that would send the average trader to prison for life, the main goal for Attorney General Eric Holder is to protect the banksters from prosecution. There was no reason to give immunity

from prosecution of the Commodities Exchange Act. Since the government already had the e-mails, they had enough to issue subpoenas and arrest warrants. Instead, Holder’s office gave them immunity from prosecution:

A crucial element in any prosecution is criminal intent, and it’s plain from the Barclays e-mails that various participants knew that what they were doing was wrong. As one Barclays trader put it in e-mails to traders at other banks, “don’t talk about it too much,” “don’t make any noise about it please” and “this can backfire against us.”

Faced with what would seem to be an open-and-shut case, how did the Justice Department proceed? Barclays entered into a nonprosecution agreement in which the United States government agreed not to prosecute Barclays as long as it met its other obligations under the agreement, including continued cooperation in what the government said was an investigation still under way. Barclays also received a conditional grant of immunity from the antitrust division. [..]

The United States government “had the smoking guns,” Professor (John C.) Coffee said, and “it could have demanded its price from Barclays,” including a guilty plea to a crime. At the same time, the agreement “isn’t surprising,” he said. “The Department of Justice has done this in almost every major case since the collapse of Arthur Andersen.” (Andersen was the accounting firm indicted after the collapse of Enron.)

Glen Ford nails precisely why there will be no prosecutions, since the ultimate aim is “protecting the banks from the consequences of their crimes:”

“The reason Eric Holder is staging criminal investigations is because that’s the only way he can protect the bankers, through immunities and by gradually narrowing the scope of the case.”

The Obama Justice Department is in theater mode, again, pretending to threaten the bankster class with criminal penalties – prison time! – for their manipulation of the global economy’s benchmark interest rates. The Justice Department claims to be building criminal and civil cases in the LIBOR scandal, which in sheer scope is the biggest fraud by international capital in history. But that’s all a front, a farce. Barack Obama has spent his entire presidency protecting Wall Street, starting with his rescue of George Bush’s bank bailout bill after it’s initial defeat in Congress, in the last days of Obama’s candidacy. He packed his administration with banksters, passed his own bailout and, in collaboration with the Federal Reserve, channeled at least $16 trillion dollars into the accounts of U.S. and even European banks – by far the greatest transfer of capital in the history of the world. Obama has reminded the banksters that it was he who saved them from the “pitchforks” of an outraged public. He pushed through Congress so-called financial reform legislation that left derivatives – the deadly instruments of mass financial destruction that were at the heart of the meltdown – untouched. [..]

Now Obama and Holder are playing the same diversionary game, making tough noises about criminal investigations of the LIBOR conspirators. But the Justice Department has already given immunity to Barclay’s Bank, of Britain, and to the Swiss banking giant UBS. More immunities will follow. The reason Eric Holder is staging criminal investigations is because that’s the only way he can protect the bankers, through immunities and by gradually narrowing the scope of the case. In the end, there will be settlements all around, and the banksters will move on to even more fantastic heights of criminality – thanks to the loyal, protective hands of President Obama.

Prosecutions? Don’t hold you breath.

Jul 17 2012

LIBOR: Past Time to Investigate the NY Fed

Wall St. is a high crime area and the criminals are allowed to run free.

~Dennis Kelleher~

Back in May of 2009, Eliot Spitzer, former New York State Attorney General, aka “The Sheriff of Wall St,”, wrote this article for Slate after the revelation that New York Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Stephen Friedman’s “purchased some Goldman stock while the Fed was involved in reviewing major decisions about Goldman’s future.” In the article he called into question just who it is that selects the person who sits at the head of the table:

A quasi-independent, public-private body, the New York Fed is the first among equals of the 12 regional Fed branches. Unlike the Washington Federal Reserve Board of Governors, or the other regional fed branches, the N.Y. Fed is active in the markets virtually every day, changing the critical interest rates that determine the liquidity of the markets and the profitability of banks. And, like the other regional branches, it has boundless power to examine, at will, the books of virtually any banking institution and require that wide-ranging actions be taken-from raising capital to stopping lending-to ensure the stability and soundness of the bank. Over the past year, the New York Fed has been responsible for committing trillions of dollars of taxpayer money to resuscitate the coffers of the banks it oversees. [..]

So who selected Geithner back in 2003? Well, the Fed board created a select committee to pick the CEO. This committee included none other than Hank Greenberg, then the chairman of AIG; John Whitehead, a former chairman of Goldman Sachs; Walter Shipley, a former chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank, now JPMorgan Chase; and Pete Peterson, a former chairman of Lehman Bros. It was not a group of typical depositors worried about the security of their savings accounts but rather one whose interest was in preserving a capital structure and way of doing business that cried out for-but did not receive-harsh examination from the N.Y. Fed.

The composition of the New York Fed’s board, which supervises the organization and current Chairman Friedman, is equally troubling. The board consists of nine individuals, three chosen by the N.Y. Fed member banks as their own representatives, three chosen by the member banks to represent the public, and three chosen by the national Fed Board of Governors to represent the public. In theory this sounds great: Six board members are “public” representatives.

So essentially, we have the thieves guarding the vault. Willie Sutton would have loved this.

That brings us to the LIBOR scandal and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s role. In his currentSlate article, Mr. Spitzer again reiterates the growing need to investigate the NY Fed. and Mr. Geithner. What did he know? When did he know it? Why didn’t he refer it to the Justice Department?

The New York Federal Reserve knew about Libor games being played by the banks years ago and seems to have done precious little about it-except perhaps send a memo parroting the so-called reform ideas proposed by the banks themselves. Then nothing more. No prosecutions, no inquiries of the banks to see if the illegal behavior had stopped-just a live-and-let-live attitude.

Apparently, as Mr. Geithner had testified during his confirmation hearing for Treasury, he didn’t see himself as a “regulator.” Yet, that is the most important part of the NY Federal Reserve. But then look who chose him as Fed president:

Hank Greenberg of AIG and John Whitehead of Goldman Sachs–these companies that got bailed out-were on the NY Fed committee that made Tim Geithner their president.

No conflict of interest there? Wow.

MR. Spitzer believes that it is time for the NY Fed to be investigated:

Was there a similar conflict of interest when the New York Fed apparently did nothing adequate about the Libor games? Well, look who was on the board: Dick Fuld of Lehman fame; Sandy Weill of Citibank; Jeff Immelt of GE-the largest beneficiary of the Fed’s commercial paper guarantees; and, of course, Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, whose bank’s London derivative trades and Libor involvement make his role on the board even more absurd.

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone contributing editor, and Dennis Kelleher, president and CEO of Better Markets Inc., join “Viewpoint” host Eliot Spitzer to assess the scope of the unfolding Libor scandal given news that the U.S. Justice Department is building criminal cases and expects to “file charges against at least one bank later this year,” according to The New York Times.

Lets just say that I agree with Atrios, don’t hold your breath for either an investigation or prosecutions.

Jul 13 2012

Happy Friday the Thirteenth or Not

If it weren’t Friday the Thirteenth, you’d think it was April’s Fool. It’s all the usual excuses by the CEO’s and the TBTF banks, “we are just finding it was this bad”

JPMorgan Fears Traders Obscured Losses in First Quarter

JPMorgan Chase, which reported its second-quarter results on Friday, disclosed that the losses on a soured credit bet could mount to more than $7 billion, as the nation’s largest bank indicated that traders may have intentionally tried to conceal the extent of the red ink on the disastrous position. [..]

If the trades, made out of the powerful chief investment office unit in London, had been properly valued, the bank said it would have lost $1.4 billion on the position in the first quarter.

Jamie Dimon, the bank’s chief executive who has consistently reassured investors that the losses would be contained, announced that the bank lost $4.4 billion on the botched trade in the second quarter. So far this year, the bank says it has lost $5.8 billion on the trades in credit derivatives.  [..]

Since announcing the multibillion-dollar mistake, JPMorgan has lost $25 billion in market value.

Jamie Dimon finally admitting what we already knew but still not admitting that the real losses for the bank is closer to $30 billion. He is either the most incompetent CEO or he thinks that we’re all stupid to realize he knew about tis all along.

or  “but Timmy wrote a memo”

Barclays Informed New York Fed of Problems With Libor in 2007

A Barclays employee notified the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in April of 2008 that the firm was underestimating its borrowing costs, following potential warning signs as early as 2007 that other banks were undermining the integrity of a key interest rate.

In 2008, the employee said that the move was prompted by a desire to “fit in with the rest of the crowd” and added, “we know that we’re not posting um, an honest Libor,” according to documents that the agency released on Friday. The Barclays employee said that he believed such practices were widespread among major banks.

In response, the New York Fed began examining the matter and passed their findings to other financial authorities, according to the documents.

But the agency’s actions came too late and failed to thwart the illegal activities. By the time of the April 2008 conversation, the British firm had been trying to manipulate the interest rate for three years. And the practice persisted at Barclays for about a year after the briefing with the New York Fed.

Friday’s revelations shed new light on regulators’ role in the rate manipulation scandal. The documents also raise concerns about why authorities did not act sooner to thwart the rate-rigging.

The perp’s figured they were too big to indict and the Justice Department agreed.

In Barclays Inquiry, the Calculation in Making a Deal

The question needs to be faced in the wake of the bank’s admitted efforts to manipulate the London interbank offered rate, known as Libor, the benchmark for countless interest rate determinations and approximately $450 trillion in derivative contracts.

If the Justice Department was looking for a textbook case of white-collar financial crime – including a conspiracy that was flourishing at the height of the financial crisis – this would seem tailor-made. As the facts released by the government make clear, there were two separate but overlapping schemes to manipulate Libor within Barclays. Yet the bank secured a nonprosecution agreement and agreed to pay a penalty of more than $450 million, a comparatively paltry sum for a bank that had more than £32 billion ($50 billion) in revenue in 2011. “The perception so far has been that the regulators have been toothless,” John C. Coffee Jr., professor of law and specialist in white-collar crime at Columbia Law School, told me this week. [..]

(The criminal division said its agreement with Barclays was reached in conjunction with the antitrust division.)

And this is why Richard Diamond and Jamie Dimon have nothing to worry about and the world is still being screwed.

 

Jun 13 2012

JP Morgan’s CEO And The Grand Lie

“We are not in the hedge fund business.”

Jamie Dimon, CEO JP Morgan Chase

JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon testified today before the Senate Banking Committee about the $2 billion plus loss from it’s “London Whale” gambling with depositor and tax payer money. He was hardly contrite. Not only did Dimon whine about the complexity of the federal regulatory system but he lied, blatantly, this from Yves Smith at naked capitalism:

In Senate testimony, Dimon revealed his idea of “portfolio hedging” to be even more egregious than the harshest critics thought. Dimon presented the job of the CIO to be to make modest amounts of money in good times and to make a lot of money when there’s a crisis. (That does not appear to be narrowly true, since in the last couple of years, during which there was no crisis, the CIO’s staff were among the best paid in the bank and produced significant profits for the bank. That is a bald faced admission that the CIO’s mandate had nothing to do with hedging. A hedge is a position taken to mitigate losses on an underlying exposure should they occur. Instead, Dimon has admitted that the mission of the CIO is to place bets on tail risks that are unrelated to JP Morgan’s exposures. A massive, systemically destructive strategy like the Magnetar trade would fit perfectly within the CIO’s mandate.

Needless to say, this definition is an inversion of not just what the Volcker rule was meant to stand for (limiting financial firm gambles with taxpayer money), it’s NewSpeak, or in this case, DimonSpeak: “a hedge is whatever I say it is, no more and no less.” Another bit of DimonSpeak was his specious response when he was arguing against the Volcker rule. The JP Morgan chief asserted that a customer loan could be construed to be a prop trade. Um, no, Volcker applies to trading books. The fact that he’d run a line like that shows how little he thinks of the intelligence of the Senate Banking Committee and the public generally. [..]

It was instructive to see how effective confident misrepresentation can be. Most of the Republican senators fawned over Dimon after the ritual scolding at the top of the hearings, and I suspect most of the media will simply replay his lines uncritically. There were a few that will work against him, like his reluctant admission that the Volcker rule might have prevented the failed London trade. But in general, reducing complex situations to soundbites allows for obfuscation and misdirection, which is exactly what Dimon and his ilk are keen to have happen.

During the testimony, Dimon admitted to responsibility for the failed trade that could possibly lead to criminal charges for violation of Sarbanese-Oxley, but even under this Democratic administration, no one believes that, certainly not Yves or David Dayen at FDL:

Dimon also deflected blame for the losses. David Dayen recounts the conference call that took place during the hearing with economists Rob Johnson and Bill Black:

Dimon tried to blame the losses on a lot of factors, and in such a way that doesn’t trip up his priorities later. As economist Rob Johnson mentioned in a conference call, Dimon has been lobbying vociferously against things like the Volcker rule. So he doesn’t want this Fail Whale mix-up to lead to a stronger regulatory environment. He tried to explain the trades as a hedge (never saying that they were one, but that he “believed” they were one, to keep him out of trouble), that would make small amounts of money in good times and more money when things went bad. They were also specifically tied to business in Europe. Bill Black, who was also on the call, targeted this as a non sequitur. “He said that senior management ordered the CIO to get out of the risk out of this underlying supposed hedge,” Black said. “But a hedge is supposed to be reducing risk, and it was protecting you from Europe going bad, when Europe is going bad. So it should have been making more money at this time.”

Black continued. “Instead of reducing the risk, the CIO went into a vastly more complex series of derivatives and went far larger, and they hid the losses. I mean, my God. They violated direct orders, lose a ton of money and lie about it. Dimon described a massive insurrection by the CIO.”

Most of the senators soft peddled their questions and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) actually asked Dimon for advice about banking regulations and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) doesn’t believe in second guessing the banksters. The closest any of the questioners came to holding Dimon accountable for the losses was Sen Jeff Merkley (D-OR). It was during that exchange that Dimon admitted he was responsible for the losses.

All in all another farce by our politicians who are owned by the man before them.

Jun 11 2012

Lame Ducks Cooking Up A Catfood Christmas for Country

A perfect storm is brewing in the elite backrooms where policy is made and it is beginning to bubble up from the factory floor into the media where their policies are sold.  Prepare the vital organs of your body for a “December Surpise” as some are calling it. The debt ceiling will be reached before the elections, sequestration from the Budget Control Act of 2011 will be going into effect (and huge military contractors are already threatening massive layoffs). The elite rhetoric about the need for austerity will likely be at a fever pitch on the campaign trail and in the media.

It’s going to be a mighty (if completely contrived) crisis.

Fortunately the elites have already got the answer to all of the problems that are being prepared to come to a head.  Never fear, they’ve been working on it for decades.

A “Grand Bargain” will solve everything.  

May 22 2012

JP Morgan’s Whale Still Growing

That $2 billion failed London Whale has burgeoned up to a hefty $7 billion:

The crisis at JP Morgan escalated yesterday as it emerged its trading losses in London could rise to as much as $7bn (£4.5bn) and the US bank cancelled a share buyback. Fears were growing that the losses could spiral from an initial $2bn, which was declared on 10 May, as JP Morgan struggles to unwind the massive bets made by the so-called “London Whale” trader Bruno Iksil. [..]

The main index on which Mr Iksil’s credit default swaps trades were based has calmed down in recent days, which suggests that JP Morgan has decided to trade out of its positions gradually rather than take one massive hit. Mr Dimon originally said the bank would deal with the positions to “maximise economic value”. But there is a danger in taking the long view. Mr Iksil was betting on the credit-worthiness of corporate America and if that starts to fall JP Morgan’s losses could mount further.

But in the meantime, Dimon decided to suspend the $15 billion stock buy back:

Two months after announcing a $15 billion share buyback program, JPMorgan Chase reversed course on Monday, saying it was halting the repurchases after the bank’s multibillion-dollar trading loss. [..]

Mr. Dimon said the bank intended to keep its dividend of 30 cents a quarter unchanged. Bank officials have repeatedly emphasized that the company has no plans to reduce it despite the trading loss. Initially estimated by the bank at $2 billion, the trading loss on credit derivatives now stands at more than $3 billion, according to traders and regulators. [..]

The decision to halt the repurchases – a move the company said it made on its own, not at the behest of regulators – sent JPMorgan’s shares sliding again Monday, closing at their lowest level since late last year.

As the losses from London Whale increase and Dimon’s reputation as the “saviour” of JP Morgan is tarnished, the calls for better and tighter regulations for banking increase. That’s the problem faced by the Senate Banking Committee as they consider the “Volker Rule”. As David Dayen pointed out today the rule should not so complex that it just creates more loopholes:

The Fail Whale trades showed that massive, as-yet unregulated risk still exists in our financial system, with the potential to bring down the economy once again and trigger massive taxpayer bailouts. Since the Administration already passed a law that was supposed to deal with that, they’re scrambling to restore what little of value existed in those laws. [..]

The article intimates that independent regulators have authority over writing things like the Volcker rule, and that the White House and the Treasury Department have limited ability to ensure that the rule properly follows from the legislative mandate. Given that a senior Administration official told reporters just yesterday that the losses at JPMorgan Chase would “inform… how the ultimate contours of the Volcker ruler come out-make sure that it is strong,” it’s clear that not even the Administration believes that. They appointed the regulators, and Treasury has plenty of control over almost everything related to Dodd-Frank. If they want a stronger Volcker rule, they’ll get it.

But will the Banking Committee come out with strong, simple rules regulating the gambling that banks are doing with depositor funds? There is a lot of doubt considering that not only are the Senators on the banking committee “financed” by the banks and lobbied heavily, a former lobbyist for JP Morgan Chase, Dwight Fettig is the staff director for the Senate Banking Committee. As our friend watertiger at Dependable Renegade observed “Well, isn’t that conVEEEEENient”:

The Senate Banking Committee is responding to outrage over the news that J.P. Morgan lost some $3 billion in customer money because of a risky trading strategy. The committee is preparing for two hearings with regulators, and Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), chair of the committee, is hoping that Jamie Dimon will testify in the near future. “Our due diligence has made it clear that the Banking Committee should hear directly from JPMorgan Chase’s CEO Jamie Dimon,” Johnson said in a statement last week.

Luckily for Dimon, the professional staff in charge of managing the banking committee will be quite familiar to him and his team of lobbyists. That’s because the staff director for the Senate Banking Committee is none other than a former J.P. Morgan lobbyist, Dwight Fettig.

In 2009, Fettig was a registered lobbyist for J.P. Morgan. His disclosures show that he was hired to work on “financial services regulatory reform” and the “Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2009″ on behalf of the investment bank. Now, as staff director for the Senate Banking Committee, he will be overseeing the hearings on J.P. Morgan’s risky proprietary trading.

I agree with Yves Smith in her NYT op-ed opinion that “for starters, reinstate Glass – Steagall”:

Preventing blow-ups like the JPMorgan “hedge” that bears no resemblance to any known hedge isn’t difficult. What makes preventing it difficult is that banks that exist only by virtue of state-granted charters – and more recently, huge transfers from the public – have persuaded public officials and regulators that they have a God-granted right not just to high levels of profit but also high levels of employee and executive compensation. [..]

Maybe it’s time to recognize that these firms are too big and in too many complex businesses to be managed. Jamie Dimon was touted as a star who could supervise a sprawling firm running huge risks, and he fell short because no one can do the job adequately. A less disaster-prone financial system requires more simplicity and redundancy. Re-instituting Glass-Steagall or other variants on the narrow banking theme isn’t a full solution, but it would make for a good start.

May 16 2012

Why the $2 Billion Chase Loss Matters to Everyone

Felix Salmon, finance blogger at Reuters and Matt Taibbi, of ‘vampire squid” fame from “Rolling Stone“, were guests on “View Point with Eliot Spitzer“, discussing the implications JPMorgan’s $2 billion trading loss and why it should matter to anyone with a banking account at Chase, or any other to big to fail bank.

Taibbi and Salmon agree JPMorgan’s risk-taking has broad implications. “JPMorgan Chase takes deposits in from every single mom and pop, and small business and large business, in the world, and the President of the United States,” Salmon says. “They’re a utility bank and it is their job and their duty … to take those deposits and lend them out into the economy. And what do they do instead? They take $360 billion and put it in a hedge fund in London.”

Jamie Dimon’s failure

by Felix Salmon

Drew’s Chief Investment Office quadrupled in size between 2006 and 2011, reaching $356 billion in total, and it’s easy to see how that happened. On the one hand, it was incredibly profitable, with the London team alone, which oversaw some $200 billion, making $5 billion of profit in 2010, more than 25% of JP Morgan’s net income for the year. At the same time JP Morgan accumulated enormous new deposits in the wake of the financial crisis, both by acquiring banks and by attracting big new clients wanting the safety of a too-big-to-fail bank. Historically, JP Morgan has served big corporations by lending them money, but nowadays, as the cash balances on corporate balance sheets get ever more enormous, the main thing these companies want from JP Morgan is a simple checking account – one where they can be sure that their money is safe.

With lots of deposits coming in, and little corporate demand for loans, it was easy for all that money to find its way to the Chief Investment Office, which could take any amount of liabilities (deposits are liabilities, for a bank) and turn them into assets generating billions of dollars in profits.

Never mind the weak tea Volker rule, what is needed is a new, revised Glass-Steagal, the break up the TBTF and protection for investors and the economy.

May 15 2012

Why Are Bank CEO’s Seated on the New York Federal Reserve?

Why is the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, or for that matter any bank CEO, sitting on the board of the body that is supposed to regulate their banks? This is a serious conflict of interest in the face of the 2008 bank crisis and, now, the $2 billion loss by Chase. $2 billion, a pittance you say. Well consider that loss triggered a drop in Chase’s market value by another $20 billion

As Matt Taibbi points this is a cause for public concern:

[..] J.P. Morgan Chase is a federally-insured depository institution that has been and will continue to be the recipient of massive amounts of public assistance. If the bank fails, someone will reach into your pocket to pay for the cleanup. So when they gamble like drunken sailors, it’s everyone’s problem. [..]

{T}he incident underscored the basic problem. If J.P. Morgan Chase wants to act like a crazed cowboy hedge fund and make wild exacta bets on the derivatives market, they should be welcome to do so. But they shouldn’t get to do it with cheap cash from the Fed’s discount window, and they shouldn’t get to do it with money from the federally-insured bank accounts of teachers, firemen and other such real people. It’s a simple concept: you either get to be a bank, or you get to be a casino. But you can’t be both. If we don’t have rules to enforce that concept, we ought to get some.

Dimon being on the board of the New York Federal Reserve is absurd:

The chief executive of JP Morgan Chase — the largest bank in the land, and the exemplar of a ‘too big to fail’ institution — is allowed to sit at the table with the people tasked with deciding when and how much of other people’s money gets earmarked for his rescue. This is not the fox guarding the hen house; this is the fox guarding the hen house while selling synthetic derivatives whose value increases with every hen he gobbles up, and who burns down the hen house so he can collect on his fire insurance policy, and then gets the government to build him a new hen house at taxpayer expense. And then, after that, he still gets to guard the new hen house.

Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat running for U.S. Senate, called for Dimon’s removal:

JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon should resign from the NY Federal Reserve Bank Board

Last week, JP Morgan Chase announced a $2 billion trading loss in two months.

Sunday on Meet the Press, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon said, “We know we were sloppy, we know we were stupid, we know there was bad judgment.”

After the biggest financial crisis in generations, Americans are frustrated that Wall Street has still not been held accountable and does not appear to consider itself responsible. Wall Street banks continue to have fundamental problems, and tough oversight and accountability are urgently needed.

Dimon is not only the CEO of JP Morgan, he is also a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, where he advises the Federal Reserve on the oversight of the financial industry.

Dimon should resign from his post at the New York Fed to send a signal to the American people that Wall Street bankers get it and to show that they understand the need for responsibility and accountability.

Sign Ms. Warren’s petition for Dimon to resign

 

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