Let’s not let this little tidbit go unremembered today. Remember when Jamie Dimon came out and said that his firm’s little escapade in London cost them $2 billion? Multiply by four and a half:
Losses on JPMorgan Chase’s bungled trade could total as much as $9 billion, far exceeding earlier public estimates, according to people who have been briefed on the situation.
When Jamie Dimon, the bank’s chief executive, announced in May that the bank had lost $2 billion in a bet on credit derivatives, he estimated that losses could double within the next few quarters. But the red ink has been mounting in recent weeks, as the bank has been unwinding its positions, according to interviews with current and former traders and executives at the bank who asked not to be named because of investigations into the bank.
The bank’s exit from its money-losing trade is happening faster than many expected. JPMorgan previously said it hoped to clear its position by early next year; now it is already out of more than half of the trade and may be completely free this year.
According to their internal models, the losses could “only” go as high as $6-7 billion, but the high end of the range is $8-9 billion. Now I could see how the PR strategy would be to leak a high number and back into the lower (but still awful) one, and taking that as a “win” in the markets. But I’m taking the over. It looks like JPMorgan Chase is mismanaging this trade on the way out as badly as they did on the way in. By extricating themselves so quickly, they are taking on more losses. The Financial Times said a week ago that they were 70% out of the trade, and that meets with this analysis.
The firm will probably spread out this loss over several quarters so we won’t ever know the precise extent of it. JPMorgan will probably end up profitable in second-quarter earnings, which will come out July 13. But this will certainly feed the speculation that JPMorgan has a massive hedge fund inside their own bank, one whose positions they cannot control when they take on massive risk. And it magnifies the potential problem if a weaker megabank found itself in the same position. Part of the reason for the accelerated losses is a pile-on from JPM’s competitors. Given the dog-eat-dog nature of Wall Street, you can certainly expect that posture in a parallel circumstance. And that could easily take down a big bank if the trade was exposed enough. And don’t even get me started about the risk of a euro collapse.
Fortunately, we have strong oversight capabilities at, say, the Senate Banking Committee, and I’m sure they’ll haul Jamie Dimon in again to testify and just… never mind.