Three JPMorgan Chase executives will take the fall for the “Fail Whale” trades that have so far cost the firm $2 billion. But Bruno Iskil, the actual London Whale, so far still has a job, for some reason, as does Jamie Dimon, the CEO who has been on an apology tour for his lack of awareness of the trading losses.
So far, the axe has fallen on two executives in the London division and their supervisor:
The bank – the biggest in the United States by assets – is expected to accept the resignation this week of Ina Drew, its New York-based chief investment officer and one of its highest-paid executives, in the next few days, the sources said.
Two of Drew’s subordinates who were involved with the trades, London-based Achilles Macris and Javier Martin-Artajo, are also expected to be asked to leave, they said. Neither was available for comment on Monday.
The departures come after the unit Drew runs, known as the Chief Investment Office (CIO), mismanaged a portfolio of derivatives tied to the creditworthiness of bonds, according to bank executives.
Many analysts believe that the problem was not the management of the Chief Investment Office, but the existence of it. It operated like a discrete unit, making bets on its own, much like a prop trading desk, in violation of at least the spirit of the Volcker rule.
Drew, who made $14 million last year, reportedly tried to resign on multiple occasions for the trades, but the resignation was repeatedly not accepted because of her past success. So in this case, the only individual looking for accountability was the accountable party.
Dimon himself has not responded to calls for him to resign from the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which have mainly come from US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. The Harvard professor reiterated her view on CNN today:
“This is about accountability. Banks have been loading up on risk and they don’t want to be accountable,” said Warren on CNN’s Starting Point on Monday. “Jamie Dimon is CEO not only of JPMorgan Chase, but he holds this position of public trust advising the New York Fed on how to regulate risk for these large financial institutions, like his own financial institution.” [...]
“It’s a real point about attitude here. And this isn’t personal to Jamie Dimon, it’s about what’s been going on ever since Dodd-Frank passed,” said Warren. “There’s been a guerrilla war out there in which the largest financial institutions have been doing everything they can to make sure that financial regulations don’t get put in place and if they do get put in place that they’re loaded with loopholes and not very effective.”
Indeed, this kind of staggering loss in a relatively placid trading environment makes the case for regulation all by itself. And if it happened to a financial firm in a less secure environment, we’d be talking about how large the bailout would be.