JPMorgan

Jamie Dimon, the outspoken chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, sat down on Tuesday for what banking analysts called a “fireside chat” during the Barclays 2012 Global Financial Services Conference. Known for his hands-on management style and confident swagger, Mr. Dimon has been navigating the fallout from a rare misstep in his career after JPMorgan announced a multibillion-dollar loss on a complex credit bet at its chief investment office unit. During a question-and-answer session with Jason Goldberg, a Barclays analyst, Mr. Dimon responded to questions about things like his stance on the mounting turmoil in Europe and regulatory changes, in particular the Volcker Rule, which restricts banks from trading with their own money. Mr. Goldberg started by asking Mr. Dimon about the rationale behind shaking up the upper echelons of JPMorgan’s executive suite in July. “It had nothing to do with the chief investment office,” Mr. Dimon said. He added that “there is nothing mystical, folks,” because the moves enabled greater cross-selling. “Cross-selling is a big deal, and we do an exceptionally good job,” he said…Tackling the issue of whether the big banks should be broken up, Mr. Goldberg asked Mr. Dimon about recent calls to break up the major banks. “There are huge benefits to size,” Mr. Dimon said. He noted that JPMorgan’s size allowed it to be “a port in the storm” during the market turmoil of 2008. “Big banks have a function in society.” The United States, he added, has the “best, widest, deepest and most transparent capital markets in the world.” Cautioning against needless reform, Mr. Dimon said, “Let’s make sure we keep that before we do a bunch of stupid stuff that destroys that.“ [Dealbook]

A fourth London-based JPMorgan Chase trader is under scrutiny in the investigation by U.S. authorities into the bank’s nearly $6 billion trading loss, according to sources familiar with the situation. Julien Grout, a trader who joined JPMorgan Chase in 2009, is drawing attention because he worked in the bank’s Chief Investment Office and reported to Bruno Iksil, the French credit trader who is a central figure in the federal probe, said the two sources. U.S. authorities are trying to determine whether traders in the bank’s London office, including Iksil, took steps to try and hide some of the losses the bank was incurring on a series of complex derivatives trades. In the trading community in London, Iksil became known as the London Whale because of the large positions he and his colleagues were taking on. Grout, who is also French, is still working for JPMorgan, according to a bank spokeswoman. [Reuters]

In her fascinating 1999 biography of J.P. Morgan,”Morgan: American Financier,” Jean Strouse writes, “He could, he said, do a year’s work in nine months but not in twelve.” Morgan would keep a workaholic’s schedule while in New York but would break for frequent trips to Europe, flopping around its spas to ward off depression and his hypochondriac fears of ill-health. He saw nothing macho about refusing holidays. The current crop of Wall Street CEOs might benefit from a similarly restorative schedule. If Goldman Sachs’s Lloyd Blankfein were to hit Positano and J.P. Morgan’s Jamie Dimon to take the waters in Baden-Baden from May to September, it may not help their image. But following Morgan’s example, it might be better for banks’ general health if their executives didn’t always feel they are in permanent crisis mode. [WSJ]

  • 16 Aug 2012 at 1:24 PM

Caption Contest Thursday


Swung by @JPmorganchase and got to see where all the action takes place. [Meghan Musnicki]

“And I want you to know the London Whale issue is dead,” Jamie Dimon recently told a bunch of school children. “The Whale has been harpooned. Dessicated. Cremated…I am going to bury its ashes all over.” [NYM]

When JPMorgan’s whale drowned a lot of people asked “where were the regulators?” and that was a silly question, because the people with the most incentive and ability to keep the whale afloat were, in descending order, (1) the whale, (2) the whale’s bosses, (3) the whale’s bosses bosses, (4) the regulators, and (5) the people asking “where were the regulators?,” so if categories 1-3 missed the problem then there’s no reason to get all mad at category 4. “If X’s could do Y they wouldn’t be X’s” is an important tool to keep in your mental toolkit, and if regulators could distinguish good from bad trades they’d be at least risk managers and probably, like, Warren Buffett.

What regulators are supposed to do, ideally, is not pick trades but rather set up systems to prevent bad trades from having ruinous systemic effects, and a major method of doing so is capital regulation. JPMorgan lost $5.8 billion on whale-failing, and if you or I lost $5.8 billion we would probably be scaling back our vacation plans, but Jamie Dimon isn’t because JPMorgan had lots and lots more money where that came from. Capital!, in both senses of that exclamation.

This is a pleasing use of regulatory intelligence: Read more »

  • 09 Aug 2012 at 6:25 PM

JPMorgan Still Reaping What Whale Boy Hath Sown

JPMorgan can’t outrun the ripples from its multibillion-dollar “London Whale” trading blunder. The largest U.S. bank admitted Thursday in a federal filing that it pushed back a plan to resume share buybacks, scaled back several key measures of capital at the request of regulators and lost money on 28 trading days in the second quarter. The developments came as the New York company tried to unwind a series of problematic positions taken by a trader in the bank’s Chief Investment Office nicknamed the “London Whale” for his outsize market bets. [WSJ]