May 11th, 2012
05:54 AM GMT
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(CNN) – JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon shocked Wall Street just after the market closed Thursday with news that the company had lost $2 billion since April 1 on trades in credit default swaps.

Sound familiar? It should. Credit default swaps based on housing mortgages created the tinder that was ignited by rising home defaults to create the conflagration of the 2008 financial crisis.

Trading in derivatives such as credit default swaps were designed to hedge against risk. But as we know, banks and other market players used these tools to create products that seemed to take the danger out of risky bets and reaped huge rewards - right up until the moment they didn’t. Banks and other businesses were stuck on the wrong side of the trade, trapped with a mountain of debt they couldn’t pay.

Speaking on a Thursday conference call – which the  Financial Times’ Alphaville called “the most excruciating bank conference call we’ve ever heard” – Dimon said JPMorgan's losses stemmed from trades designed to hedge against risk, but those trades went awry due to "errors," "sloppiness" and "bad judgment." It doesn’t help that, just a month ago, Dimon decried the build-up of credit default swaps at JPMorgan’s London office, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, as a “tempest in a teapot.”

The losses of the past six weeks were mitigated by successful hedges that played out, Dimon said, but the bank expects its  losses to exceed $800 million by the end of this quarter. And it stands to lose a further $1 billion more due to market volatility.

Still, some nagging questions remain, such as whether the losses were contained only to JPMorgan and not any other major banks.

As CNNMoney reports, CLSA analyst Mike Mayo pushed Dimon on whether he thought other banks could be in the same situation. "I don't know," Dimon sighed. "Just because we're stupid doesn't mean everyone else was."

Not a comforting response, given the lemming-like cliff dive of the big investment banks in the run-up to the credit crisis.

Mayo was most discomfited by the fact these lapses in judgment occurred inside the JPMorgan’s Chief Investment Office, or CIO, which manages $375 billion in securities. “Here is a key point: this loss occurred in a risk-mitigation unit and not a risk-taking one,” Mayo wrote in a note to investors. “The bigger issue is who was watching the CIO office? We think this raises issues about checks and balances at a $2tn bank that has performed better than peers.”

Mayo told CNN’s Katy Byron: "It's like if you say to your wife, 'Honey I went out and bought insurance on a house last month,’ and you come back a month later and say you lost $100,000 on the insurance policy."

Mayo said it’s clear the losses weren’t the result of one bad trade, but a break down on several levels. "(It) raises the issue – are these big banks too big to manage? There should be controls, overseers, checks and balances,” he said.

And the loss raises the specter that lessons from the credit crisis have yet to be learned. "Our financial system is still not under control,” Mayo said. “The problems that led to the financial crisis are brought up again when something like this happens."

Dimon said new risk modeling tools brought out in the first quarter have been shelved as a result of the losses. The loss comes at a time when banks are fighting the Volcker rule, due to come into force on July 21, which will curtail bank’s ability to trade with their own money.

Meanwhile, as the Economist reported last month, efforts to better regulate derivatives trading have been half-hearted and ill-funded.

JPMorgan’s loss suggests that derivatives trading remains a hazardous business, a “risk management” tool that has yet to be tamed.



soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. Yorkie

    Yorkie here again

    Guess what ? Greed,Greed,Greed is here again.Just sorry, I am not in the loop to gain the benefit.Someone's loos is someone's gain.

    May 11, 2012 at 7:02 am |
  2. Mark

    To big to fail?

    May 11, 2012 at 7:08 am |
  3. Jeff

    Bankers are starting to pull even with lawyers at the top of the human POS list.

    May 11, 2012 at 7:30 am |
  4. Max

    They know citizens will just pay the bill through Washington if they screw up. Until the next crisis comes and the US debt becomes so massive even Washington can`t help. The debt is now racing towards 16 Trillion dollars. It won't be long and we will follow the path of the Greeks. Debt is becoming completely unsustaiable. Any cuts to the budgets will make investors run for the exits.

    May 11, 2012 at 7:31 am |
  5. Regulate the banks

    So what is it going to take to get some meaningful and just regulation in the banking industry? And what is taking so long?

    May 11, 2012 at 8:08 am |
  6. Regulate the banks

    They are just going to dump all of this on the taxpayers. Why can't we demand regulation that works? Are they going to get a raise too?

    May 11, 2012 at 8:09 am |
  7. Regulate the banks

    We should jsut cut the losses now and not let them dump their debt on us anymore. Let them go down the tubes. They should have gave our own money back to us so we could have paid down our own debt. the banksters would have gotten theirs, but that's not what they did. they just threw it out the window to banksters. now we are all sunk.

    May 11, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  8. Regulate the banks

    Let the students go bankrupt too.

    May 11, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  9. Gordon

    Obviously big banks don't have the capacity to learn from their mistakes.....

    May 11, 2012 at 8:20 am |
  10. Jane

    Why aren't these men from Wall Street who are gambling away the world's economy in jail yet?!?!!! The fact that they have this huge loss yet the bosses go home to their million dollar homes with a big bonus coming no matter what is madness.

    May 11, 2012 at 8:30 am |
  11. Michael

    Here we go again....... is this going to end , someday?

    May 11, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  12. Gail

    This will stop when We The People demand it to stop. Take action and not be a puppet any longer.

    May 11, 2012 at 8:53 am |
  13. Will

    A wise decision would be to read, "The Clash of Generations – Saving Ourselves, Our Kids, and Our Economy" by Laurence J. Kotlikoff and Scott Burns. We should all examine "The Purple Financial Plan: Limited-Purpose Banking." However, what Republican or Democrat or Independent leaders will?

    May 11, 2012 at 8:55 am |
  14. sunny

    These fkers are goona loose. All they give is cards with the highest APR which is changed without even notifying the customers. Gain for the corporate and lose for the common people. You loose *****. Your end is near if not today.

    May 11, 2012 at 9:09 am |
  15. Kme

    JPM has some slimy employees. I expected something like this to surface this year and expect more ahead.

    May 11, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  16. jennysserendipity

    Credit swap is too risky...When are big nachos gonna learn?

    May 11, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  17. Ken Young

    One by one?
    2007–IS
    2008–LB
    2012–JPM?,......
    Who is next?

    There is a old saying: A cow is always to be a cow, no matter where you put it.
    Translations: Wall Street con artists are always to be con artists, no matter what regulations you impose to them.
    Ditto to con men in politics. Never expect con men in politics to correct Wall St. con twins' wrong doing.

    May 11, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  18. ikenelson

    The profits are all kept private, the losses are paid for by the public.

    If a bank is "too big to fail", then it shouldn't be allowed to get that big.

    May 11, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  19. Maxwellstar

    This is only the tip of the iceberg.

    May 11, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  20. JD

    I'll bet he still gets his mutli-million $$ bonus!

    May 11, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  21. khlibya

    same time amirca keep on printing money our kids die of hunger

    May 11, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  22. greencook

    Credit default swaps? Hmm. Sounds familiar. Because nobody went to jail, and the laws did NOT REALLY change, this will keep happening. Eric Holder is such a loser. What will Mitt do? Ha ha :)

    May 11, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  23. JR

    Actually I applaud bankers for coming up with such schemes, floating numbers and fooling each other into believing the outcome would be positive.. but, they are late and it has already been done... it is called a "Ponzi Scheme"... latent criminals.... I would be in jail.

    May 11, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  24. anon

    Ok stop the fear mongering CNN. One of the reasons for this is simple JPMorgan lost out big when the Greeks restructured their debt forcibly (meaning they had to force the holdouts as they did not get the 85% agreement from investors to accept the deal) triggering CDS. CDS for those that don't understand the system are Credit Default Swaps. That is basically insurance that investors buy to hedge against risk inherent to all owned debt. Normally I wouldn't defend a bank but if the author would have looked at their financial sheets he would have seen that this happened outside of their control. Of course its easy to compare it to LB because CDS are in play but this is a completely different cause for this happening.

    May 11, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  25. Lam

    If Trojans were trying to destroy our country they couldnt do a better job than these Bankers and the Politicians that enable them. It is becoming a caricature of itself. Vulture Capitalism at its finest. We use to worry about Russian Sleeper Agents in the Cold War era. Apparently the enemy is our own, whether intentional or not. Sad beyond belief!

    May 11, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  26. zeb

    Just awesome, but it don't really matter how much they lose, as they will just be bailed out by your bank-loving government.
    As long as you vote for puppets like Obama and Romney you will never get any real change.

    May 11, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  27. VoR

    To the bulk of the commentators below:

    JFC...it's a $2bn loss that's been partially mitigated through hedges (yes, "greedy bankers" actually spend resources on hedging, imagine that), not the end of the world, will be absorbed by the bank and nobody's asking for your bailout (like YOU pay any federal taxes, LOL..give me a break here), so chill out please

    May 11, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  28. blogger1026

    WHERE is the money? It has to be somewhere. Isn't it time to call in financial investigators to trace these losses and find out EXACTLY whose pocket this money ended up in? It's time to stop burying our head in the sand and pretending that the money was lost. It wasn't misplaced! It's hidden in some corporate conglomeration and will become a mega payoff to an unscrupulous CEO. This money belongs t investors, most of whom have worked all their lives and were counting on investments and 401k's to live comfortably in their retirement, some of whom will now become dependent on welfare (tax dollars) at the end of their lives.

    May 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  29. Miam1C

    You can't keep the fox away from the hens if you leave the door open. These people are still sacking the economy, and this time its our fault. We're letting them do it by electing leaders whose knees buckle before the force of unbriddled greed. Even the the South American oligarchies and Asian totalitarian states leave enough for their economies to prosper. The goose with the Golden Eggs is not Wall Street, its US!, if we can survive another round of leaching.

    May 11, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  30. Bobo

    You are COMPLETELY wrong on what trade caused the loss. It was a bet on the flattening of a CDX index.

    May 11, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  31. Marc

    I guess Obama can blame this one on Bush, as well?

    May 11, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  32. Michael

    Hey, great news !
    Give Jamie Dimon $2 billion, nope, be more generous give him 5 billion. and let JP Morgen die.
    It's a dinosaur anyway.

    RIP J.P. Morgan

    May 11, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  33. Ritt Momney

    America's "best and brightest" at it again. No doubt they will all go home with healthy 7 figure 'rewards' while the rest of us put off retirement for another 5 years to clean up (pay for) this mess.....

    May 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  34. Ray Star

    Serves Them Right, no bail out! F! Them!!!

    May 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  35. sgtgismo

    Dimon, just get rid of the high risk stuff through your special department and you'll begin to make some profit, almost guarantee that. Shake a leg and get moving, time is a wasting !!

    May 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  36. waynebernard

    A recent government study in the U.S. found that banking industry executives, managers, supervisors and financial professionals accounted for 60 percent of the increase in income accruing to the top 1 percent in America:

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2011/10/income-inequality-in-america-1-percent.html

    It will be interesting to watch what happens to JPMorgan's executive bonuses in 2012.

    May 11, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  37. zorrokl

    prisonplanet.com
    infowars.com

    nuff said.

    May 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  38. pwightman

    And the GOP still says that regulation is a bad thing... let them do what they want (with you and your money) and this is the result... Big fat bonus checks at the end of the year for irresponsible behavior. America, do not let the GOP (a.k.a the banks) seat in the office.

    May 11, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  39. aurelius

    Europe should do what the US has done for decades. Just print more money and devalue your currency so export will become cheaper. In other words, export your problems and don't tackle your structural problems. The US will be hard pressed to disapprove of your new strategy since we have implemented for at least 40 years ourselves.

    May 11, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  40. rexedie

    money should be labeled right up there with cocaine or heroin.... it is a drug that creates delusional thinking.... false feelings of power and superiority. problem is the junkies that abuse it ruin millions of lives.,,, not just their own and immediate circle.... numbers do not equate reality. just like the way the debt machine just keeps tacking on penalties for this and penalties for that. most people in the money world are dead to any sense of humanity or common sense.
    its all about how much they can steal and not be held accountable. and idiots blame OWS for trying to get something done about these POS BANKERS AND BROKERS.

    May 11, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  41. James

    The credit crisis was never over to begin with.

    May 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  42. Cow

    Love how the GOP is always trying to regulate what woman are able to do with there bodies, instead of regulating the thieves on wall street.

    May 11, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  43. Alex Povolotski

    Swaps all over again. They just don't learn the lesson because we bail them out every time. Stop bailing private corporations out and let the market take them out of business. Why should we pay for their bad decisions all over again?

    May 11, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  44. Vengat

    Nassim Nicholas Taleb...You are a genius...Black Swans are occuring in droves...His book Fooled By Randomness written in 2004 said all

    May 11, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  45. EricKuma

    Bigotry, Ignorance and Greed are destroying everything we know.

    May 11, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  46. Ram Proshad Basak

    Who is next ? Ghost of the credit crisis

    May 11, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  47. LBNative

    It is time for Jamie Dimon to go stockholders! There is no excuse for this. After the last bail-out, it was bonuses for every employee across the country, followed by the opening of more branches and a remodel for all. Then we heard in an interview from Aspen (or was that the French Alps, while on a skiing trip with his family), how well JPMorgan Chase was doing and how responsible they are in helping America to rebuild the economy.

    Jamie....you and JPMorgan Chase have no credibility. This time you are going to have to bite the bullet. You screwed over America before and it is not going to happen again!

    May 11, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  48. /sigh

    These practices need to be illegal, it will keep happening because of greedy rich elitists until that is done.

    May 11, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
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    May 11, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
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    May 12, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  51. celietz

    Remember that this is the guy who came out last week and insisted that if there was less government regulation, that our economy would be recovering twice as fast as it is currently. For those of you who don't understand what is going on here let me explain it to you. First they take customer funds and use it to invest all the while counting on FDIC to cover any losses, but then their investments tank so bad they almost drive the economy in to financial ruin so they pretty much blackmail the government in to bailing them out. So then the government implements the Vockler Rule to keep this from happening again by making it illegal for banks to invest their customers deposit funds any more. Then just last week the CEO for JP Morgan comes out and states that the economy would be recovering twice as fast if the government had not implemented new regulations like the Vockler Rule, a law which has not even taken affect yet, and now it turns out that JP Morgan has lost another $2 billion in costumer deposit funds. So basically the CEO of JP Morgan is insisting that if we did not have any government regulation on banking at all not only wouldn't this have happened in the first place, this second issue wouldn't have happened either, Yet the very law he is complaining about has not even taken affect. The fact is, because of the fact that this law has not taken affect, JP Morgan has lost another $2 Billion dollars and they are using debit swapping to try and hide what they did in order to keep people in the dark and to insist that new government regulations are not needed.

    May 12, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
  52. 6185jp

    This is ridiculous, how can this be happening again? When all the citizens who have any sizable deposit accounts in JPMChase and all the other big banks decide to withdraw their money all at once and it causes another depression, will the US government finally decide enough is enough?

    May 13, 2012 at 12:00 am |
  53. JMorcan

    This is Geithner's legacy, the result of bailing out the banks without demanding regulation and oversight of the derivaties markets. The continuing collusion between Wall Street and the Obama administration is truly disgusting. No American owes this government anything.

    May 13, 2012 at 12:37 am |
  54. gliese42

    Sorry..no bailout. Money needed for poor Americans

    May 13, 2012 at 4:47 am |
  55. Centrist

    Hahahaha, Your professional liar Clinton brought back derivatieves after being illegal since the early 1900's. Many stupid people don't know what that means, but such is the case that relies on such people for political power...Hang on , it's not over yet. Hopefully you are all able to read between the lines. NOT!

    May 13, 2012 at 6:22 am |
  56. Philosopher

    The US rich have no principles and will face the rebellion when it comes. It is starting in Europe and soon the banks will be nationalised there. It will spread aroud the world and then the US banking system will be nationaised. These people are unfit to be entrusted with an economy. Capitalism does not work in the long term fimacial interests of a nation.

    You have not leaned the lesson yet. You are destroying the world's ecomonies and do not care what the result is or what you do.

    May 13, 2012 at 6:58 am |
  57. icibank

    They obviously have no need to be bailed out. Banks were losing HUNDREDS of billions in 2007/2008. And its obvious half of you don't know what the point of a swap is. Its used as a hedging instrument. Meaning the investments of the company will be SECURED through an insurance-like device known as an option. Corporations use options and hedging instruments. Coca Cola has a CF hedging strategy against currency swings in many countries, yet when these strategies go awry, you don't have people breaking down doors. Everyone is still sore and angered that companies were bailed out. Educate yourselves and realize WHY the companies were bailed out, WHO was making poor decisions (not just at the top, think about the mortgage you took on for your second house when you made 50k a year), and just WHAT would have happened if the way the government reacted had changed. At the same time, the bailout money that has been paid off has been returned WITH INTEREST, meaning the government MADE A RETURN on the investment. Think of it as a terrible move by the treasury and the fed, yet realize they would be investing the money and making worse returns otherwise. Giving billions of dollars without a strict demand of interest would be idiotic, and was just risky enough to require large returns. Take an investments course and realize what you're writing and standing for.

    May 13, 2012 at 7:09 am |
  58. icibank

    and "Philosopher", we are destroying the world's economies? Look at Greece's impact. Look at the tax evasion rates in European nations, and the effect that the eurozone collapse is having on the world. This swap wouldn't have even occurred if the markets weren't so prone to volatility due to the neglect of euro taxpayers and European spending.

    May 13, 2012 at 7:13 am |
  59. icibank

    and finally "celletz", the ramifications of the Volcker Rule have already been felt. Look for prop trading desks in any investment bank, and I'll guarantee you that they practically do not exist at this point. Also, look up prop trading if you're just going to assume I mean a normal trading desk. With that, like I've said, any company is allowed to mitigate its risk through hedging instruments. You are all just hopping on this "credit default swap" aspect like its the worst thing ever to be invented. It is a bet on an investment, used as insurance. The Volcker Rule, if anything, Supports what JPM was doing, as they were minimizing risk. The rule, itself, is made so that financial companies are less risky. They were using cash on their balance sheet, not cash from accounts, and reducing their market risk.

    May 13, 2012 at 7:19 am |
  60. sid

    watch the inside job.. and you'll know how these people are screwing the world

    May 13, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  61. government cheese

    Does this mean the Frank/Dodd didn't work?

    May 13, 2012 at 10:25 am |
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  64. matty

    This isn't the Bank's fault, or the Dems, or the the GOP's fault. It's our (american people) fault for allowing this to continue. We still have the power to save our country, there's still a chance, vote Paul 2012.

    May 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  65. Sharp

    So what's the deal this time? Are the 1%ers setting us up for another big bite; another fat handout? They are keeping a gun at our heads still; Keep giving us special treatment or we will pull the trigger. I am getting sick of it. The Republicans are their toadies, bought & paid for. When are we going to put the lot of them their place?

    May 14, 2012 at 1:21 am |
  66. Sharp

    "Meanwhile, as the Economist reported last month, efforts to better regulate derivatives trading have been half-hearted and ill-funded." Of course they have. When government is paid to drag it's heels (read Republicans) they pass the law but then refuse to fund the ENFORCEMENT. This is the oldest trick in the book & Wall St toadies are experts at it.

    May 14, 2012 at 1:39 am |
  67. Poindexter

    As long as Repubs and Dems alike are being funded by these very same bankers there will be no change. It is unspeakable that after more than a TRILLION in bailouts for a crisis caused by these very same actions, that no one has been prosecuted and no changes to the rules have occurred. These people are gambling with our retirement and investment funds. Whether there is an up or downside, they collect huge commissions regardless. What do we not understand? This is no different than the Enron Energy traders. What is it going to take for people to wake up and demand 1: regulation or abolition of hedge funds and derivatives trading and 2: prosecution of the perpetrators, their cronies and the regulators who turned a blind eye to the goings on?

    May 14, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
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