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 »
One of the pleasures of every JPMorgan quarterly earnings call is hearing Jamie Dimon’s, and now Marianne Lake’s, authoritative-sounding pronouncements on proposed regulations. You sometimes get the sense that regulations can’t be adopted without Dimon’s approval, so his views on these calls provide some sort of indicator of which of the proposals might actually happen. Plus, general amusing orneriness.
So how’d everyone do? Well, they think Nouveau Glass-Steagall is pretty silly, for one thing: in response to an analyst question about it, Lake said “we don’t spend much time thinking about it.”1 Oof! Get outta here with your Glass-Steagalls.
But the theme of the call was mostly “could you tell us more about your leverage ratio?” Here, JPMorgan is not so fond of the new Basel III leverage ratio proposals. The earnings deck walks through how JPMorgan will comply with the new U.S. leverage ratio rules, but it does not do any math on the effects of the new Basel proposals to do creepy things like disallow derivatives collateral netting. When asked to quantify the leverage under those proposals, Lake and Dimon declined, saying that there are “fundamental problems” with those proposals. So they have chosen to ignore them and, presumably, they will go away. Read more »
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]
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 »