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‘London Whale’ Isn’t Dead Yet: JPMorgan Is Out of Control, Rosner Says

Aaron Task
·Editor in Chief

Editor's Note (5:35 pm): The report is out and can be viewed here.

On Friday, a Senate subcommittee will hold a hearing to discuss its findings on JPMorgan’s infamous “London Whale” trade. To many on Wall Street, the Senate is “beating a dead whale,” as former Bank of America executive Sally Krawcheck told Bloomberg.

But “this isn’t about the [London Whale] trade. This is about a breakdown of oversight and internal controls,” counters Josh Rosner, managing director at Graham Fisher and co-author of Reckless Endangerment. “And internal control problems [and] lack of oversight can turn into massive losses to shareholders.”

Shareholders would be forgiven for feeling as if they’ve already suffered enough: After revelations of the trade broke last spring, JPMorgan shares fell by about 33%, shaving around $51 billion off the firm’s market value. JPMorgan shares have since recouped those losses (and then some) but the firm has lost $6.2 billion to date from the trader and the hit to its reputation, and that of CEO Jamie Dimon, were quite severe.

Rosner doesn’t see much near-term risk to JPMorgan stock because of the trade. But Friday’s Senate hearings will be “important in terms of helping understand the size scale of these institutions and how hard and complex it is to manage them,” he says. “I would say [Dimon] is a great manager but it’s impossible to manage an institution this size.”

In sum, Rosner sees rising “political risk” to the big banks is rising, something we explore further in part two of this interview.

As for JPMorgan, specifically, Rosner has a new report out entitled Out of Control, in which he argues, essentially, that JPMorgan’s reputation as America’s best and strongest big bank isn’t borne out by the facts.

In addition, he says the firm is starting to look a bit like another institution once viewed as being ‘too big to fail’: Fannie Mae.

“I’m not suggesting they’ll fail like Fannie Mae [but] their ability to use their power and influence to prevent [policy] actions seems eerily reminiscent of Fannie Mae,” Rosner says.

Aaron Task is the host of The Daily Ticker and Editor-in-Chief of Yahoo! Finance. You can follow him on Twitter at @aarontask or email him at altask@yahoo.com