pawns

Reuters had a neat article today about how JPMorgan’s CIO embarrassment increased credit spreads for a bunch of investment grade companies. The 121 companies included in the CDX.IG.NA.9 index, in which JPMorgan apparently had a $100bn long position, saw their CDS spreads spike in the days after JPMorgan revealed its losses – and its intent to unwind that position – last month. As Reuters puts it, those companies’ CDS spreads

became more like the pawns in a battle between JPMorgan and hedge funds on the other side of its bet. This struggle so dominated a corner of the market that it sent false negative signals about the credit quality of some major companies whose underlying finances were largely unchanged, market experts said.

JPMorgan, sort of strangely, disagrees:

A JPMorgan spokeswoman said there was no causal link between the credit derivatives prices and the trading tied to the bank’s losses. The theory, she said in an emailed statement, “is wrong and ridiculous.”

But the Reuters analysis showed the 121 companies underlying the index of credit derivatives at the heart of the trading battle had a sharper increase in default insurance costs than 41 companies in a separate index that was not believed to be part of the big bets.

That statistical analysis – CDS on companies in the index went up by more than CDS on some other companies – is more suggestive than compelling, but also more suggestive than “wrong and ridiculous.” I like suggestive when I can pair it with a story. What is the story – the actual trade that would do this? Read more »

Remember this?

Time was, Jamie Dimon was referred to as “Obama’s favorite banker.” And for a while, he really was! And why shouldn’t he be? He’s a lifelong Democrat, he basically put Obama in office, he attended the 3-day inauguration in support of his guy. He’s extremely good-looking. He loves universal healthcare. He’s got charm and charisma dripping out of every orifice, he was one of the CEOs who didn’t fuck up and he’s not Lloyd Blankfein. I won’t even get started on the fact that he’s the guy who’ll make you laugh and he’s handy around the house. (Just know that those attributes were not discounted by the president.) And for a while, things between O and D (and their respective kingdoms) was good. Really good. Obama seemed to understand that Dimon wasn’t cut from the same cloth as “baldy,” it looked like JPM wouldn’t get punished for the sins of its peers and the President would openly acknowledge how great Jamie was, especially compared to the low-hanging fruit at Citi. Read more »