So how’d Harvey do? I found Goldman’s co-CFOed earnings call this morning a bit awkward but the awkwardness was a bit overwhelmed by IS LLOYD GETTING FIRED TOMORROW?? No, I’d guess?
You can look at Goldman’s results from a variety of distances. Up close, EPS estimates were $2.28 and actuals were $2.85 ($3.33 ex-DVA); $2.85 is more than $2.28 and there’s a dividend increase to boot so, yay there you go.
In the middle distance, you could have some concerns. Core, recurring revenue growth was so-so relative to peers, and costs were high, partly due to pleasing comp accruals, which I guess could concern you if you were a mean ungrateful shareholder and/or a former Goldman employee who for whatever reason is no longer accruing said accruals. Most of the outperformance came from appreciation on investing and lending positions.1
In the far distance, what do you make of it? The most awkward moment of the call for me was when the UBS analyst asked the CFO tag team to try to give him a sense of future Investing & Lending profits. You can’t do that! Investing & Lending is like the stochastic slush fund; revenues were $1.8bn this quarter versus $200 last quarter and ($2.5bn) this time last year. If you could predict those revenues you shouldn’t be a banking analyst. The tag team went like this, paraphrasing wildly: Read more »
JPMorgan did its third-quarter earnings call this morning, and even though the London Whale was a pretty minor presence on the call I was still going to throw up a picture of a whale here because (1) why stoke Jamie’s ego further and (2) who doesn’t like whales, but then the operator asked for closing remarks, and Jamie Dimon closed the call by saying “I’m just surprised no one mentioned how handsome Doug Braunstein looked in that article in the Wall Street Journal,”1 and, well, that happened, and we’re each going to have to deal with it in our own way, but in any case, Doug Braunstein, ladies and gentlemen.
I HAVE NOT FORSAKEN YOU WHALEDEMORT and we’ll talk about him in a bit when I can get my emotions in check but for now I guess we owe it to that handsome cherub to your left to talk about JPMorgan’s business a bit so let’s do that.
JPMorgan’s business: It is good! Records were set, expectations exceeded, the stock … um, opened down, but got better. (Then got worse again! I don’t know.) The other day I suggested that underwriting 30-year investment-grade bonds is sort of a bad business because you make 87.5bps now, but then your client is all set for 30 years, so it’s really only 3bps a year, which is not much compared to basically any other method of providing money to companies, except ironically actually lending them money (if they are high investment grade), which is just a pure loser. I more or less stand by that in a big-picture sense, but of course 30 years is well into IBGYBG territory and it feels great to make 87.5bps now, so now you’re happy. JPMorgan is I guess underwriting a lot of 30-year bonds; more to the point it’s underwriting a lot of 30-year mortgages.
A toy model you could have of the mortgage market is: Read more »
Like I mentioned earlier, the David Viniar show this morning is a good time in its (relatively) quiet way. If, like me, you’ve drunk the GS we-understand-risk Kool-Aid, you’ll particularly enjoy Viniar’s take on capital requirements, which is – and I say this as a compliment – pretty cynical. Now, one thing that you might have in your arsenal of thoughts about bank capital is something along the lines of “capital requirements are a way of forcing bank managers to confront the risks of their positions and fund those positions in a loss-absorbing way to protect their creditors and the financial system more broadly.” Your faith in that position should I think be a little shaken by some of the Viniar Q&A. For instance:
Roger A. Freeman – Barclays Capital: [H]ow are you charging the desks for capital at this point? Is it on a Basel I basis or Basel III or some combination?
David A. Viniar: … As far as how we’re charging the desks, that’s a little bit of a complicated question. And we’re working through that now, and it — there’s no one-size-fits-all yet. And we have to be careful. As you know, Basel III does not kick in for quite a while, and quite a bit of what we do is very short dated. And so we don’t want to charge desks on a Basel III basis, have them turn down profitable opportunities that would be long gone from our balance sheet long before Basel III ever kicks in. So we’re really taking into consideration the tenor of what we do and trying to figure out what capital regime we’re going to be under. And it’s still — I would say, we’re going through a transition process here.
On the one hand, totally unsurprising and unobjectionable. On the other hand note the pragmatism: if and when our regulators are going to charge us for capital under the (generally higher) Basel III rules, we will charge desks for capital based on those rules. If not, not. The rules are the rules and the transition to new rules will be made in accordance with the rules. Only. If you thought “well, Basel III will improve the health and safety of banks by steering them away from the riskiest worst scariest products” – guess what, Goldman disagrees. They’ll manage capital to whatever regime is in place, as a matter of complying with regulation, but the capital rules appear to have no effect whatsoever on how they actually think about the risks of their assets, trades and businesses.
JPMorgan earnings this morning were a bit disappointing, with investment banking revenue down 30% y/o/y in what may be a bad sign for the rest of the industry, but the Jamie & Doug In The Morning Show remains finance’s top-rated program in its time slot and it did not disappoint today. This is in part because the callers have learned how to play to the hosts’ strengths; my favorite part of the call went something like this (paraphrasing slightly):
Jamie Dimon: Ooh I hates me some regulators. Next question? Analyst: Wow. After Jamie’s speech about regulators, my question is going to sound really mundane. [Asks mundane question] Braunstein: [Gives mundane answer] Analyst: So, Jamie, do you want to say anything more about regulators? Dimon: Sure! [Does]
But Dimon’s statement that “basically there’s no one in charge of the global financial system” was more or less unprovoked. It was also the main theme of his remarks, particularly about Europe, where “regulatory policy is completely contradictory to government objectives” as the ECB throws gobs of money at banks to encourage them to lend and keep their governments afloat, at the same time that regulators tighten capital standards, reducing lending, and crack down on holdings of dicey peripheral government bonds. For himself, he’s a big fan of the ECB’s work on liquidity, less keen on Basel et al.’s work on capital requirements. There is no book-talking whatsoever here.* Read more »