The fallout from JP Morgan’s $2 billion trading loss is continuing today with the news that three of the bank’s executives will exit the firm. CEO Jamie Dimon is in full disaster management mode, appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press yesterday to push back on claims that JP Morgan’s mess shows that there is still too much risk in the banking system.
Just last month, JP Morgan economist Blythe Masters insisted that the bank was not engaged in trading for its own benefit. Dimon meanwhile, was deriding the proponents of regulations to rein in risky trading as “infantile,” as the New York Times’ Gretchen Morgenson reported:
The loss, and the embarrassment it held for Jamie Dimon, the bank’s imperious chief executive, came just one month after a private dinner party in Dallas at which he assailed two respected public figures who have pushed for policies that would make banks like JPMorgan smaller and less risky.
One was Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman, whose remedy for risky trading by too-big-to-fail banks is known as the Volcker Rule. The other was Richard W. Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, who has also argued that large institutions should be slimmed down or limited in their risky trading practices. [...]
During the party, Mr. Dimon took questions from the crowd, according to an attendee who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of alienating the bank. One guest asked about the problem of too-big-to-fail banks and the arguments made by Mr. Volcker and Mr. Fisher.
Mr. Dimon responded that he had just two words to describe them: “infantile” and “nonfactual.”
Not only has JP Morgan belittled those trying to ensure that the nation’s biggest banks can’t threaten the economy with their risky trading, but it has actively lobbied to water down new rules governing these trades. And Dimon is still claiming that the Volcker Rule, meant to prevent banks from trading for their own account with taxpayer-backed dollars, is unnecessary. But as Businessweek’s economic editor, Peter Coy, wrote:
The need for a risk-reducing rule something like the Volcker Rule is obvious. Banks have a special obligation to avoid risk because their failure can drag down the entire economy. JPMorgan is able to borrow cheaply because lenders understand that the federal government will not let it default. In fact, it has been officially declared “too big to fail.” In return for the trampoline of taxpayer dollars—once implicit, now explicit—JPMorgan and other too-big-to-fail banks have no choice but to accept some constraints on their freedom of action.
But it sure doesn’t seem like Dimon will be swayed by that argument anytime soon.