Tags: Bruno Iksil, CIO, Javier Martin-Artajo, JPMorgan, Julien Grout, London Whale, SCP
Today U.S. prosecutors charged former JPMorgan CIO traders Javier Martin-Artajo and Julien Grout with various crimes for mis-marking the London Whale structured credit portfolio positions. The complaints are here and here and reading them you get the strong sense that Bruno Iksil, the Whale himself, was the hero of the whole saga. Oh, sure, he built a colossal portfolio of what turned out to be massively money-losing speculative trades, and yes, he did sit by and watch as his boss Martin-Artajo and his underling Grout conspired to mis-mark that portfolio to disguise hundreds of millions of dollars of losses, but: it made him angry.1 So that’s something? Anyway, he is not being charged and is cooperating with authorities, and I guess one benefit of cooperating, in addition to the not prison, is that you come across pretty well in the complaints.
Meanwhile Martin-Artajo and Grout were not pure of heart, per the complaints; they conspired to mis-mark the book to, in Martin-Artajo’s case, make sure that their bosses didn’t take it away from him,2 and in Grout’s case, I dunno, to do what Martin-Artajo told him to do I guess. The dynamics of this terrible terrible team are a bit unclear. From the emails and recorded calls Martin-Artajo seems like the sort of guy you would not want to work with if you were law-abiding and massively money-losing; he spent a lot of time yelling at Iksil for his conscience.3 Read more »
Tags: aluminum, Derivatives, FERC, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, OIS discounting, UBS
UBS is selling its over-the-counter commodity derivatives portfolio to JPMorgan, prompting John Carney to say this:
Here’s a good rule of thumb. When one bank buys a business from another bank, it’s almost always a case of regulatory arbitrage. It’s never really because of synergies or managerial talent or whatever other hokum the media relations churn out to their willing dupes in the press. It’s just about one bank being better able to take advantage of the rules.
So even though the rationale for JPMorgan Chase buying the over-the-counter commodities derivatives business of UBS remains mysterious, you can safely surmise this is regulatory arbitrage. Most likely, it’s got to do with capital requirements.
Umm maybe? I don’t know, this question seems a little over-determined; the thing is that pretty much everyone thinks that (1) JPMorgan is pretty good at running an investment bank, the occasional hiccup aside, and that (2) UBS is pretty crap at doing so. So are US regulators relatively more comfortable with JPM managing this portfolio than Swiss regulators are with UBS doing so? Sure, probably, but probably so are the respective shareholders, and counterparties, and senior managements, and anyone else you might ask. Really moving any portfolio of anything from UBS to JPMorgan is probably Pareto optimal.
The light irony comes from – well here is Bloomberg’s first sentence: Read more »
Tags: Blythe Masters, Commodities, electricity, FERC, JPMorgan
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission fined JPMorgan $410mm today and you can see why JPMorgan would be okay with that. The details are in this marvelously complicated FERC order and settlement agreement,1 but the outlines of the story are simple. FERC built a terrible box, and the box had some buttons that were labeled “push here for money,” and JPMorgan pushed them and got money. You can understand the category mistake very easily:
- FERC thought the box was for generating electricity at market prices but with a robust backup system to ensure reliable supply, and
- JPMorgan thought the box was for dispensing money.
It’s a perfectly understandable mistake to make if you have spent your career building and operating boxes that dispense money, as JPMorgan global commodities head Blythe Masters has. What else could the box be for?
I suppose we should talk about how the box worked, because this is that sort of blog. Read more »
Tags: "Downfall", Grant Williams, I've worked in a lot of offices and I tell you people do that all the time, Jefferies, JPMorgan
Jefferies Group LLC wrongfully fired its former Asia head of equity trading Grant Williams over a newsletter that included a reference to a Hitler parody video, a Hong Kong judge ruled. Williams drafted a newsletter to subscribers which included a link to a video clip depicting Adolf Hitler, with subtitles created by a U.S. filmmaker that mocked JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon. The newsletter was released prematurely and Jefferies fired Williams the next day for unacceptable and inappropriate conduct, according to the judge. Jefferies management was “hypersensitive” and “irrational,” in its response to the publication of the Dec. 7, 2010 client newsletter, Judge Conrad Seagroatt said in issuing his decision today in Hong Kong’s High Court…The YouTube Inc. parody video clip uses a scene from the 2004 German movie “Downfall” showing Hitler screaming at his subordinates at the end of the war. Subtitles suggested Hitler’s character was Dimon, speaking in the context of bets on the price of silver. [Bloomberg]
Tags: Bank of America, Citigroup, gray areas, JPMorgan, little guys, mortgage settlement, NBD, not that Joseph Smith, Wells Fargo
It seems that a few boutique mortgage lenders are playing a little fast and loose with the rules they agreed to follow when they agreed to pay $25 billion to get the government to leave them alone. Read more »
Tags: Albion, bummers, Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan, Layoffs, Tampa
The House of Morgan is about to have to have some pissed off people in upstate New York and the west coast of Florida on its hands. Read more »
Tags: Glass Lewis, ISS, Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan, shareholder activism
Hahaha no he didn’t almost lose his chairmanship at all, come on. Anyway here’s a thing:
Dimon has also been a fierce critic of President Obama’s economic policies, including parts of the Dodd-Frank banking reform bill. Many union pension funds as well as public officials running large pension funds have vocally supported the president’s economic and regulatory policies, and the recent shareholder vote was designed to quash Dimon’s public criticism of these policies, people inside JP Morgan say.
That’s from Charlie Gasparino’s report today that the House Financial Services Subcommittee is going to hold a hearing “into whether proxy advisory firms are pushing political agendas rather than serving shareholder interests,” which I guess is no sillier a hearing than most other hearings. More things:
Executives at many companies have complained to Congress that such battles are fraught with politics, with advisory firms often pushing the political agendas of some of their biggest shareholder clients at union and public pension funds.
There’s much to unpack there1 but the basic questions are: Read more »