J P Morgan Breached its Risk Limits More Than 330 Times in 2012
Richard Nixon learned this lesson the hard way. So did Salomon Bros. and John Gutfreund in 1991. Hard to believe JP Morgan senior management did not know this lesson of history well.
Let the lawsuits and the fines begin. Here is the conclusion from the Senate report; more detail later after the hearing today.
“The J.P. Morgan Chase whale trades provide a startling and instructive case history of how synthetic credit derivatives have become a multi-billion source of risk within the US banking system. IE Buffett’s “weapons of mass destruction” pose a dangerous risk to the banking system. I was shocked that JP Morgan breached their risk limits on derivatives positions more than 330 times over 5 months in 2012. Get that? The most iconic name in banking hid hundreds of millions of losses, billions really, from the public, the regulators, the politicians and the shareholders over a span of 3 months. Ouch!
“They also demonstrate how inadequate derivative valuation practices enabled traders to hide substantial losses for months at a time; lax hedging practices obscured whether derivatives were being used to offset risk or take risk;
risk limit breaches were routinely disregarded; risk evolution models were manipulated to downplay risk; inadequate regulations oversight was too easily dodged or stonewalled and derivative trading and financial results were misrepresented to investors, regulators, policy makers, and the taxpaying public who, when banks lose big, may be required to finance multi-billion bailouts.”
These risks that JPM took were the result of that old devil hubris, that coming so soon after the 2008 meltdown, the pillorying of Goldman Sachs in public hearings about its rotten Abacus deal, and the public’s uproar over the costly bailouts to save Wall Street– will trigger a firestorm. Time for Washington to get serious and ignore the lobbyists and the campaign contributions. Morelater today after the hearings.