JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon testified on Capitol Hill today for the second time in two weeks, appearing before the House Financial Services Committee to discuss the trading debacle that has cost his bank billions of dollars. Before the hearing, Bloomberg News pointed to a new study showing that JP Morgan Chase receives a $14 billion annual subsidy from the U.S. government. This subsidy is due to JP Morgan’s reputation as a too-big-to-fail bank, which lets it borrow money at lower rates than other, less systemically risky banks:
JPMorgan receives a government subsidy worth about $14 billion a year, according to research published by the International Monetary Fund and our own analysis of bank balance sheets. The money helps the bank pay big salaries and bonuses. [...]
In a recent paper, two economists — Kenichi Ueda of the IMF and Beatrice Weder Di Mauro of the University of Mainz — estimated that as of 2009 the expectation of government support was shaving about 0.8 percentage point off large banks’ borrowing costs. That’s up from 0.6 percentage point in 2007, before the financial crisis prompted a global round of bank bailouts.
To estimate the dollar value of the subsidy in the U.S., we multiplied it by the debt and deposits of 18 of the country’s largest banks, including JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc. The result: about $76 billion a year. The number is roughly equivalent to the banks’ total profits over the past 12 months, or more than the federal government spends every year on education.
JPMorgan’s share of the subsidy is $14 billion a year, or about 77 percent of its net income for the past four quarters. In other words, U.S. taxpayers helped foot the bill for the multibillion-dollar trading loss that is the focus of today’s hearing.
At the last hearing, the Senate all but groveled at Dimon’s feet, and today’s questioning was not much better. But Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) did ask Dimon about the Bloomberg study. Dimon denied that his bank receives a funding advantage due to its size, saying that the bank is “probably pretty much like everybody else.” Watch it:
As Bloomberg’s editors put it, “when Dimon pushes back against [regulations like] capital requirements or the Volcker rule, it’s worth remembering that he’s pushing for a form of corporate welfare that, left unchecked, could lead to a crisis too big for the government to contain.” Yet that’s precisely what he did today.