Breakout

Is JPMorgan Stuck in Perpetual Defense Mode?

Breakout

What a week. One lucky soul in South Carolina wins $400 million on Powerball, while a separate suffering soul has to fork over $920 million for essentially being a bad trader.

If the former is a story of sheer dumb luck, the latter could be seen more as a matter of karma in as much as the nation's leading lender looks to be stuck in perpetual defense mode. For each case or misdeed that JPMorgan settles, another one seems to takes its spot in the cue.

It boils down to this, as my co-host Jeff Macke and I discuss in the attached video, if 18-months, a billion dollars in fines, six billion in losses, and a basket full of apologies isn't enough to get the man off your back, what is?

Related: Americans Sacrificing Freedom to Avoid Another Meltdown

The answer to many people is "nothing."

It's becoming increasingly clear that, try as they might to shed it, the nation's largest lenders are effectively walking around with bulls-eyes on their backs and that any tin horn regulator from dozens of different jurisdictions (state, Federal and international) can threaten to haul them into court and probably reach a settlement along the way.

To say it's an alphabet soup of rule making and enforcement would not be an understatement with the Fed, the FDIC, the SEC, the OCC, the FHFA, the CFPB, the CFTC and many more, each with their own axe to grind, mission to uphold and a desire to right the wrongs of the past.

This is not to say there should be no regulation, or even less regulation, but rather better regulation. But as much as this endless litigation is demoralizing and distracting, it would be difficult to say that it is slowing down the best bankers like Jamie Dimon. In fact, JPMorgan Chase is set to report another year of record earnings with 2013 net income pegged to rise 17% to $22.7 billion. Not bad for a stock that has more than tripled in five years and is now worth approximately $200 billion.

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