How should one read JPMorgan’s Whale Report? I suppose “not” is an acceptable answer; the Whale’s credit derivatives losses at JPMorgan’s Chief Investment Office are old news by now, though perhaps his bones point us to the future. One way to read it is as a depressing story about measurement. There were some people and […]
Once upon a time there was a whale, and he had a synthetic credit portfolio, and one day he did terrible terrible things with that synthetic credit portfolio, and the next day he woke up and realized he had lost $5.8 billion, and he was sad. The question for you is: was that a disaster? […]
Hi Whale! I told you you were not forgotten. Not understood, either, but not forgotten. The London Whale now goes by the less adorable name “synthetic credit portfolio,” since all mammalian representatives of that portfolio have left for non-extradition countries. That is descriptive enough, or so I would have thought; my rough model of the […]
You’ve all peered into Ina Drew’s soul by now, right? My basic reaction was, “she kicks it old school.” This is obvious from the way that she stayed in Short Hills after getting rich, instead of decamping to, like, the moon, I guess? More telling, perhaps, is the fact that she seems to have been […]
The OCC report on bank derivative activities is rarely what you would call a laugh riot but I enjoyed that the 2Q2012 one released today gives the London Whale a belated sad trombone: Commercial banks and savings associations reported trading revenue of $2.0 billion in the second quarter of 2012, 69 percent lower than the […]
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 […]
Who wins the call-the-Whale-close? The headline number is a $4.4 billion loss this quarter but that is lower than it could have been because those losses propagated backwards through time: JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) today reported that it will restate its previously-filed interim financial statements for the first quarter of 2012. The restatement […]
Standard Price Is Right rules, closest without going over. Guesses in by 4PM today. Winner will receive his or her choice of a visit from the sandwich fairy, a highly coveted whale bath toy, or an I heart Dealbreaker button.
“Many companies have transactions that go bad,” Greenberg said today on “In the Loop With Betty Liu” on Bloomberg Television. “Everybody’s not paraded down to Washington to testify.” “He handled it OK,” Greenberg said of Dimon, 56. “It was really outrageous to have the CEO come down and testify before Congress because of a transaction […]
Despite Jamie Dimon’s promise that JPMorgan will be “solidly profitable” for the quarter, some are skeptical given the growing estimates of Whale-boy’s losses. According Mike Mayo, the bank “will only make $727 million…including $4 billion of losses in the unit that made the bungled bet [though] if the losses exceed $5 billion, JPMorgan could make an overall loss.” Barclays’ Jason Goldberg thinks things are gonna be okay here, and sees the bank making $3.3 billion, assuming you know who will have only lost it $3 billion when all is said and done. And yourselves?
Start considering your predictions now, as come July 13, there will be a visit from the Sandwich Fairy and a coveted bath toy for whoever comes closest without going over.
J.P. Morgan has added at least five new employees over the past month to the risk department in its Chief Investment Office, the unit responsible for trading losses that may have climbed to $9 billion, according to people familiar with the matter. The bank is expanding the risk unit as it responds to the trading […]
Saba Capital Management’s Boaz Weinstein recently exited a now famous and profitable credit derivative bet against JPMorgan, according to sources familiar with the trade. In May, JPMorgan reported a $2 billion trading loss in its chief investment office, due to large bets on an obscure group of indexes that track the performance of corporate bonds, […]
The House’s ping-ponging alternation of smacking and caressing Jamie Dimon today got pretty boring but I was struck by one number that Dimon mentioned, perhaps because it was about the only number that he mentioned. One Republican, with somewhat unclear intent,* suggested that the biggest risk to JPMorgan is that interest rates go up and […]
“Mr. Dimon, I thought you loved New York. Why did all this activity take place in London?”
As you may have heard, later today Jamie Dimon will once again testify on Capitol re: a certain whale’s multi-billion dollar losses. Unlike last week’s hearing, conducted by the relatively reasonable Senate Banking Committee, this time Dimon will face questions and screeching from the relatively bat-shit House Financial Services Committee, a group of people we hope will not hold back. Yet despite the HFSC’s history of making witnesses look good, not matter how egregious their offense, by conducting inquiries in a manner that would suggest recreational bath salts abuse by the Congressmen and women, Bloomberg’s Tom Keene expressed worry earlier this morning about Dimon’s ability to navigate the hearing. Would today be “tougher” for the JPM chief, Keene asked Bloomberg TV Surveillance guest Meredith Whitney? According to the analyst, Dimon be more than fine and while we’re on the subject, not that you asked, she can think of another bank CEO who’d crack under Congressional questioning on account of the fact that he doesn’t have eyes you could get lost in.
So, 1. How dare you, lady? Lloyd’s impish smile and comedic timing don’t do it for you? And 2. We thought these kind of blows were reserved for Vikram.
Mr. Iksil [who sometimes wore the same clothing several days in a row] once confided to the colleague that when he wanted to avoid questions from supervisors about his trades, he sometimes would start discussing a mathematical term, equation or other technical jargon, to confuse and end the conversation. “He wasn’t trying to evade, he sometimes […]
If we’re being totally honest, while it had its moments, last week’s Jamie Dimon Congressional hearing to discuss Whale Boy was a bit of a letdown, theatrically-speaking. This was probably due in large part to the fact that it was conducted by the Senate Banking Committee, and the Senate typically comes off intelligent and reasonable compared to the House,* and proceeded accordingly. As we surely don’t have to tell you, this is not the kind of hearing we are interested in.
We are interested in hearings that involve Congressmen and women screaming “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU HAVEN’T BEEN PROSECUTED YET!!!” at financial services employees and accusing them of dressing up as Girl Scouts in order to deceive the public. We are interested in hearings that involve the use of the term “smart-alecks.” We are interested in hearings that involve subjects being told to be more like Magic Johnson. We are interested in hearings that involve subjects who’ve never worked for Goldman Sachs being grilled until they break about working at Goldman Sachs. We are interested in hearings that involve bath salts, or the suggestion that the people conducting it have taken a bunch of them and at any moment might leap across the dais to eat the witness’s face off. Fortunately, we might get the chance for all that and more tomorrow, when Dimon makes another trip down to D.C. to appear before the House Financial Services Committee to talk whales.
In House Testimony, Dimon Sticks To Script [Dealbook]
*Make no mistake, most of them fell short of becoming Rhodes Scholar Quarterfinalist
s, but we’re speaking in relative terms here.
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 […]
If you’d like some non-real-time insight into the London Whale, may I highly recommend this oral history, by Edinburgh sociologists Donald MacKenzie and Taylor Spears, of how investment banks came to price and trade and hedge things like the index CDS that the Whale dabbled in? It made me tear up a little. It is […]
“It is be the best in the world.” We should give thanks and “stop shooting each other.”
“When we make mistakes, we take them seriously and often are our own toughest critic,” Dimon said in the remarks ahead of his appearance before the Senate Banking Committee to discuss losses linked to credit derivatives by New York-based JPMorgan’s chief investment office. “While we can never say we won’t make mistakes — in fact, […]
As you may have noticed, Jamie Dimon has had some unwanted attention thrown his way over the last several weeks, on account of one of his employees losing a few billion dollars. Though the JPMorgan CEO has been dealing with public displays of hate previously reserved for Lloyd Blankfein and Goldman Sachs, and will certainly be on the receiving end of a lot more tomorrow when he testifies on Capitol Hill, he has had a few people come to his (and his bank’s) defense. Yesterday Stephen Schwarzman told Bloomberg to lay off JD and JPM, noting that “occasional losses are inevitable” and “publicly excoriating JPMorgan serves no purpose except to reduce people’s confidence in the financial system,” while former Goldman exec Bill Archer said the whale fail makes him just “kind of shrug.” Lee Bollinger, who is President of Columbia and chairman of the Federal Bank of New York’s board of directors told the Journal that Dimon shouldn’t step down from his post as a director, as some have requested, and that those who cite conflicts of interest have a “false understanding of how [the Fed] works.” Some individuals from the Columbia community read Bollinger’s comment and, spoiler alert, are not happy. Enter, a strongly worded letter.
Mr. Lee Bollinger
President of Columbia University
Office of the President
202 Low Library
535 West 116th Street, Mail Code 4309
New York, NY 10027
Dear President Bollinger,
As faculty, alumni and students of Columbia University, we are writing to express our deep disappointment in your recent decision to support JPMorgan Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon’s continued membership on the Board of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.
As the Chairman of the Board of the New York Fed, your unambiguous duty – as stated by the Guide to Conduct – is to maintain “the integrity, dignity, and reputation of the Federal Reserve System . . . and to avoid actions that might impair the effectiveness of System operations or in any way tend to discredit the System.”
By supporting Mr. Dimon’s tenure you abdicated this basic responsibility. By echoing Mr. Ben Bernanke’s remarks that it is up to Congress to address this problem, you denied your duty to ensure the integrity of the Fed. By stating that Congress has more pressing issues to address than this one, you, in essence, urged inaction by all parties capable of affecting this important change. Surely you understand that a functioning financial system is a pre-requisite of our country’s economic recovery. By characterizing those who wish to see Mr. Dimon resign as “foolish” and in possession of a “false understanding” of how the Fed works, you have added insult – and inaccuracy – to the injury of encouraging this institution to continue in its current form.
It is worth reminding you that JPMorgan Chase is currently under investigation for its recent $3 billion trading loss – a loss Mr. Dimon initially denied and then characterized as a ‘tempest in a teapot.’ It may also bear repeating that Mr. Dimon has long campaigned aggressively against important regulatory reforms designed to prevent excessive risk taking by Too Big To Fail institutions – institutions the Federal Reserve saved with $3 trillion dollars in special lending facilities and which Congress bailed out with $700 billion of taxpayers’ money. Certainly Mr. Dimon has no place as a leader of this institution.
We urge you to reverse your support for Mr. Dimon and call for his immediate resignation. By way of reminder, there is precedent for this kind of action. In April 2011, Jeffrey R. Immelt, CEO of General Electric, stepped down from the NY Fed after it was clear that GE Capital would be regulated by the Fed as a ‘systematically important’ financial institution. As one of the largest banks in the world, JP Morgan is similarly – if not more ‘systemically important.’
As an educator, you have a special responsibility to demonstrate moral and intellectual credibility, something you have failed to do in this situation. As the president of a university, you have a responsibility to ensure that students have the best possible opportunities upon graduation. Surely you understand the connection between the unemployment crisis facing young people in America and the 2008 financial collapse. That collapse not only threatened the employment potential of millions of American students, but also risked the fiscal health of the parents and grandparents who co-signed their educational loans. That you would choose to uphold the interests of major financial institutions over students and their families is unimaginable. We certainly hope that the contributions made to Columbia by JPMorgan – sums north of $500,000 – had nothing to do with your decision.
Three years after the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, the country is struggling to rebuild its economy. A stable and appropriately governed financial system is a critical pre-requisite of our recovery. As the Chairman of the NY Fed, we urge you to take the obvious step of demanding Mr. Dimon’s resignation.
Current Students, Alumni and Faculty of Columbia University
Graduate Student and Alumnus
Professor of Economics
President of the National Housing Institute Charles H. Revson Fellow, 2004
Asst. Clinical Professor of Medical Psychology in Psychiatry
Alumnus and Adjunct Faculty
CC Class of ’09
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Class of 2012
Alumnae -GS of Arch & HP
William D. Hartung
Center for International Policy
Columbia College Class of 1978
Faculty, Medical School
Columbia College, ‘95
Adjunct Faculty and Alumni
Union Theological Seminary
Professor of Clinical Psychiatry,
Alumnus College ’76, GSAS ’78, P&S ’82
School of the Arts Alumni
Professor of Philosophy
Columbia College Class of 1991
Class of 2016
National Domestic Workers Alliance
Columbia College 1980
Alumnus Class of 2012 & SIPA student Class of 2014
BC Alumnus, Class of 2011
Eric J. Schoenberg
Adjunct Associate Professor
Columbia Business School
The Honorable David Segal
Former RI state representative
Founder and Principal, ASO Communications, Columbia College ’99
Current student of Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, Class of 2013
Denise J. Tartaglia
Co-Founder, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Columbia University alumni, SOA ’07
Thomas J. Yager
Associate Research Scientist, Mailman School of Public Health
BreakingViews has a couple of posts up about one of my favorite things in the financial universe, Credit Suisse’s habit of paying its bankers in structured credit instruments that take pages to describe. How’s that going? Great: Three years ago, around 2,000 employees were forced to take some $5 billion of the riskiest assets from […]
The Fed last night unleashed eight zillion pages of Basel III implementation on the universe and I’m tempted to be like “open thread, tell us about your hopes and fears for capital regulation.” So do that! Or don’t because it is super boring, that is also a valid approach. Still I guess we should discuss.
Starting slow though. Banks have to have capital, meaning that they have to fund some of their assets with things that are long-lived and loss-absorbing, like common equity, rather than with things that have to be paid back soon and at face value. The reason for this is that the rest of banks’ assets are funded with things that we really do want to be paid back soon and at face value, like deposits, and if the value of those assets declines you don’t want those deposits to be wiped out.
The rules say that you need capital equal to a percentage of your assets. The game is deciding (1) what that percentage is, (2) what is capital (proceeds from selling common stock, and actual earnings, yes, but, like, deferred tax assets?), and (3) how you count assets (you might want more capital to shield you from losses in, say, social media stocks than you would to shield you from losses in Treasury bonds, so regulators use “risk-weighted assets,” so that $1 of corporate bonds counts as $1 of assets, $1 of Treasuries counts as $0 of assets, and $1 of Facebook stock counts as $3 of assets*).
Anyway, here are the required capital levels: