Prop Trading

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Jamie Dimon's Quandary: Now That JPM's Internal Hedge Fund Is Gone, Where Will 25% Of Net Income Come From?





Much has been said about JPM's CIO Loss (which so far has come at a little over $5 billion, just as we calculated in the hours after the original May 10 announcement). And with the so called final number out of the way, investors in JPM have breathed a sigh of relief and are stepping back into the company hopeful that a major wildcard about the firm's future has been removed. The issue, however, is that the CIO loss was never the question: after all JPM could easily sell debt or raise equity to plug liquidity shortfalls. The real issue is that just as we explained months before the loss was even known, the Treasury/CIO department was nothing short of the firm's unbridled hedge fund which could do whatever it chooses, and not be held accountable to anyone at least until its counterparties broke a story of an epic loss to the media. And thus the problem becomes apparent: now that every action of the CIO group is scrutinized under a microscope by everyone from management to auditors to regulators to analysts to fringe blogs, the high flying days of whale trades are forever gone. The question then is just how big was the contribution of the Treasury/CIO group, which until today was buried deep within JPM's Corporate and PE Group and not broken out. Thanks to the new breakout, reminiscent of Goldman starting to break out its own Prop Trading group some years ago, we now know exactly just how big the contribution to both revenue, but more impotantly, net income was courtesy of JPM's Hedge Fund.

The result is nothing short of stunning.

 
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The "New Normal" FX Rip





This is how a completely news-less FX move looks like under the new normal, at precisely the moment when market opens. Did we say no news? Yes. 80 pips move in minutes on absolutely nothing, but an avalanche of very specific stop limit triggers. And since the EURUSD is the highest levered fulcrum security, and since shorts have piled in aggressively in the last few days, ramping the pair to the stratosphere is why risk is soaring, once again on no positive news. And now that the market move has happened, the news to explain it will come fast and furious. One wonders if all of the now unwound CIO capital has moved into JPM's most recent prop trading addition: the CFXO.

 
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JPM Admits CIO Group Consistently Mismarked Hundreds Of Billions In CDS In Effort To Artificially Boost Profits





Back on May 30 we wrote "The Second Act Of The JPM CIO Fiasco Has Arrived - Mismarking Hundreds Of Billions In Credit Default Swaps" in which we made it abundantly clear that due to the Over The Counter nature of CDS one can easily make up whatever marks one wants in order to boost the P&L impact of a given position, this is precisely  what JPM was doing in order to boost its P&L? As of moments ago this too has been proven to be the case. From a just filed very shocking 8K which takes the "Whale" saga to a whole new level. To wit: 'the recently discovered information raises questions about the integrity of the trader marks, and suggests that certain individuals may have been seeking to avoid showing the full amount of the losses being incurred in the portfolio during the first quarter. As a result, the Firm is no longer confident that the trader marks used to prepare the Firm's reported first quarter results (although within the established thresholds) reflect good faith estimates of fair value at quarter end."

 
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JPMorgan To Clawback Bonuses, Will Announce CIO Loss Just Over $5 Billion





Many were stunned when Ina Drew left JPM with millions in bonuses a few short days after Jamie Dimon told Senate and Congress those responsible for the multi-billions CIO loss would see compensation clawbacks. They can be unstunned now, following a report from the WSJ that in a few days JPM will announces millions in clawbacks from disgraced CIO executives. As for the final loss on the CIO? Recall what Zero Hedge calculated (not speculated, not surmised, not made up) in the hours literally after the JPM announcement of a $2 billion loss? We said: "Is JPM Staring At Another $3 Billion Loss?" and elaborated that "this is where we find ourselves now - the net notionals remain huge (and implicitly on JPM's shoulders), his lack of selling has left the credit index maybe 20bps rich to where it might trade given its rough correlation with the S&P 500 and this would imply at least $3bn of losses already in addition at fair-value." We were again spot on: from the WSJ: "J.P. Morgan is expected to announce Friday that the trading blunders will cost the company just over $5 billion in the second quarter, in which the bank is expected to show a profit, according to people familiar with the situation." Math: it's fundamental (Ph.D. economists - take note).

 
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Latest Press: JPMorgan Loss As Large As $9 Billion





We have long said that the maximum potential loss of the JPM CIO trade based on the blow out in IG9 10 year (and associated trades complex), which has about a $200 million DV01, is far beyond not only the $2 billion that Jamie Dimon estimated on May 10, but above our own estimate which was $5 billion on that same day. Today, the NYT "according to people who have been briefed on the situation" which translated means just more media propaganda because all the news on the topic in the past month has been leaks by axed parties, says that '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." Also according to the NYT, and roundly refuting what the other leak had told Bloomberg and other media outlets, "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." Obviously, this refutes media "reports" also based on "people familiar" or "conflicted sources" that JPM has unwound its trade, either by novating, or by transferring it over to helpful hedge funds. Bottom line: take everything with a grain of salt until Dimon himself gives an update in two weeks, as this could easily be an upper bound loss estimate starwman to set expectations very low, sending the stock soaring when the "final" announce loss comes in at ~$5 billion, courtesy of other well-known "masking" techniques such as loan loss reserve release and DVA benefits.

 
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Just What Is Mario Draghi Hiding? ECB Declines To Respond To Bloomberg FOIA Request On Greek-Goldman Swaps





Back in February 2010, in the aftermath of the discovery that none other than Goldman Sachs had facilitated for nearly a decade the masking of the true magnitude of non-Maastricht conforming Greek debt, Zero Hedge first identified the prospectus for a Goldman underwritten swap agreement securitization titled Titlos PLC. We titled the analysis "Is Titlos PLC The Downgrade Catalyst Trigger Which Will Destroy Greece?" because for all intents and purposes it was: at that time a rating agency downgrade of the country would lead to a chain of events which would make billions in assets ineligible for ECB collateral, forcing a massive margin call on the National Bank of Greece, which likely would have precipitated a Greek default there and then.  But that is irrelevant for the time being: what is relevant is Titlos itself, and what Bloomberg did after we posted the analysis. It appears that in following in the footsteps of Mark Pittman, Bloomberg sued the ECB under Freedom of Information rules requesting "access to two internal papers drafted for the central bank’s six-member Executive Board. They show how Greece used swaps to hide its borrowings, according to a March 3, 2010, note attached to the papers and obtained by Bloomberg News. The first document is entitled “The impact on government deficit and debt from off-market swaps: the Greek case.” The second reviews Titlos Plc, a securitization that allowed National Bank of Greece SA, the country’s biggest lender, to exchange swaps on Greek government debt for funding from the ECB, the Executive Board said in the cover note. The ECB's response: "The European Central Bank said it can’t release files showing how Greece may have used derivatives to hide its borrowings because disclosure could still inflame the crisis threatening the future of the single currency." Maybe. But what is far more likely is that the reason why the ECB, headed by none other than former Goldmanite Mario Draghi, is desperate to keep these documents secret is for another reason. A very simple reason:

Mario Draghi - 2002-2005:  Vice Chairman and Managing Director at Goldman Sachs International

 
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Ahead Of Tomorrow's Dimon Hearing, Presenting JP Morgan's 93.5% Historical Winning Trade Perfection





We are just about 16 hours away from Jamie Dimon's sworn testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, which even has the theatrical name: "A Breakdown in Risk Management: What Went Wrong at JPMorgan Chase?" Will anyone learn anything? Of course not: Jamie Dimon has been well-schooled in not disclosing critical trading information, and will certainly use the "proprietary position" and "more shareholder losses" excuse for any directed question asking how big the JPM CIO loss has become. Because while the hearing could have been productive, if indeed its purpose was to seek to prevent future massive losses of scale such as the suffered by the JPM prop trading unit and its hundreds of billions in CDS notional position, the last thing anyone will care about tomorrow is market efficiency and actual regulation. First and foremost: grandstanding and posturing, in the case of the politicians, and not disclosing anything, without saying too many "I don't recall"s in the case of Dimon. Which is why we have little hope to get anything out of tomorrow's formulaic 2 hours of largely meaningless droning. That said, considering we have already covered the topic of the JPM loss from a mechanistic standpoint more than any other media outlet, there is one more chart we would like to share with readers.

 
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Ahead Of Jamie Dimon's Senate Testimony, Who Knew What, When: The Full Infographic





One day ahead of Jamie Dimon's blockbuster appearance before the Senate Banking Committee, Bloomberg has released the definitive timeline infographic of who knew what, when, together with damning evidence that, contrary to what has been represented by JPM execs, the firm knew about the massive risk, which an in house risk manager described as "trying to land a Boeing 747 without flying lessons", as far back as 2010. Not only that but the firm was actively engaged in fudging its VaR for years in an attempt to hide the monster in the closet which we dubbed, long before the details were exposed, the "world's largest prop trading desk". Well, now the monster is out, and nobody wants to come within one bid/ask spread of it. And tomorrow, Jamie will have a fun time explaining just how he let all of this happen for years while potentially engaging in material 10(b)-5 fraud in his public filings and statements.

 
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Live Senate Hearing On JPMorgan Prop Trading Loss





Sadly the man who thought (with good reason) he was more important than the Chairsatan (until the whole CIO fiasco blew up in his face of course), Jamie Dimon, will not be there (and will thus not be available to provide an update on the CIO's losses to date, which are likely orders of magnitude greater than the $2 billion benchmark previously disclosed, but that does not mean today's Senate hearing on lack of regulatory oversight and massive bank prop losses will be any less interesting. From C-Span: The Senate Banking Committee will hold an oversight hearing on efforts to overhaul the regulation of derivatives. Lawmakers will focus on the steps the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) are taking to implement provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, and their efforts to reduce systemic risk and improve market oversight. The session also will spotlight J.P. Morgan Chase's $2 billion trading loss, which is under investigated by the FBI and the SEC." We, for one, can't wait to find out what the FBI's trained CDS forensic experts discover on this one...

 
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About That Boaz Weinstein London Whale Bulls-Eye





Two days ago we made a simple observation: back in September 2011, Weinstein's firm SABA Capital hired one of the key JPMorgan prop traders - Maitland Hudson - who "ran JPMorgan’s proprietary trading of derivatives tied to commercial-mortgage bonds" and whose future job at Saba would "focus on relative value trades" - such as, perhaps, IG9 10 Year versus a basket of tranched trades... Our suggestion was that instead of being a brilliant credit trader as he has been called by Bill Ackman, and his antics while in charge of the DB prop desk certainly put theory in jeopardy, perhaps Weinstein is merely a wonderful headhunter: one who knows just whom to hire and when (kinda like Steve Cohen hiring key Pharmaceutical company R&D personnel in a perfectly legal transaction now that expert networks are done, but that is a topic for another day).

 
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The Second Act Of The JPM CIO Fiasco Has Arrived - Mismarking Hundreds Of Billions In Credit Default Swaps





As anyone who has ever traded CDS (or any other OTC, non-exchange traded product) knows, when you have a short risk position, unless compliance tells you to and they rarely do as they have no idea what CDS is most of the time, you always mark the EOD price at the offer, and vice versa, on long risk positions, you always use the bid. That way the P&L always looks better. And for portfolios in which the DV01 is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars (or much, much more if your name was Bruno Iksil), marking at either side of an illiquid market can result in tens if not hundreds of millions of unrealistic profits booked in advance, simply to make one's book look better, mostly for year end bonus purposes. Apparently JPM's soon to be fired Bruno Iksil was no stranger to this: as Bloomberg reports, JPM's CIO unit "was valuing some of its trades at  prices that differed from those of its investment bank, according to people familiar with the matter. The discrepancy between prices used by the chief investment office and JPMorgan’s credit-swaps dealer, the biggest in the U.S., may have obscured by hundreds of millions of dollars the magnitude of the loss before it was disclosed May 10, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to discuss the matter. "I’ve never run into anything like that,” said Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.’s Brad Hintz in New York. “That’s why you have a centralized accounting group that’s comparing marks” between different parts of the bank “to make sure you don’t have any outliers” .... Jamie Dimon's "tempest in a teapot" just became a fully-formed, perfect storm which suddenly threatens his very position, and could potentially lead to billions more in losses for his firm.

 
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Director Of Spain's Failed Bankia To Leave With €13.8 Million Termination





If those in charge are still confused why the general population is not very "appreciative" of the banker social substratum, the following example should provide some color. Following the ever greater public bailout fund black hole that Spain's Bankia has become (first of many zombies), we now learn that one of its financial directors, Aurelio Izquierdo, will be entitled to €14 million in pension and termination benefits. Supposedly in compensation for running the bank straight into the ground after just one year of operation, and lying fabulously about its financial performance, in the process suckering in thousands into investing their hard earned cash so that oligarchs such as Aurelio can promptly retire to a non-extradition locale. And this, dear powers that be, is why the general public continues to scratch its head at how it is remotely possible that incompetent crony capitalists get paid tens of millions for blowing up their firms, while everyone else is stuck footing the soon to be soaring inflation bill (because print they must, and print they will).

 
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JPM Hires Ex-SEC Chief Enforcement Officer To Help Prop Trading Loss Damage Control





For anyone who had doubts that the JPM CIO debacle was only just starting, the just broken news by Bloomberg that the firm has hired former SEC enforcement chief William McLucas "to help respond to regulatory probes of the firm’s $2 billion trading loss" should put all doubts to rest. Because the last thing JPM needs now is to be perceived as engaging in even more regulatory capture (its current general counsel was also previously a head of enforcement at the SEC) . Yet because it is doing precisely this, means that the offsetting cost, namely the fallout that will be associated with the CIO unwind if and when completed (and we will know for sure when the Q2 earnings are released at the latest), will be fast and furious.

 
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Live Webcast Of First (Of Many) JPM Hearing - Honorable Mary Schapiro And Gary Gensler Presiding





No close encounters of the Dimon kind today, but we get our first sworn testimony on all matters #FailWhale, when Mary Schapiro and Gary Gensler open their mouths at 10:00 am, and confirm what everyone knows - that the TBTF's prop trading desks are alive amd well, that the Volcker Rule was one big misdirection, and most importantly, that nobody has any idea what multi-billion trades the big banks engage in until it is far too late, and even then they refuse to give their investors a snapshot of how big the real losses are.

 
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Nassim Taleb Is Angry That Not Even John Gotti Got Paid As Much As JPM's Ina Drew





Until this point virtually every pundit and financial journalist and blogger has opined on JPM, its prop trading operation (as first exposed by Zero Hedge), and its massive loss which due to its pair trade nature has potentially unlimited upside, but likely will top out at $5 billion (as also first explained by Zero Hedge over a week ago and subsequently by the WSJ). The one person who has kept silent so far was the man whose entire philosophy predicted just this epic flare out, by revolving around the assumption that humans operate under the illusion that they understand rare events: they don't (for more details read his books The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness which by now have been read by all traders in the world, but apparently not those formerly in charge of JPM's CIO unit). Courtesy of this BBC Newsnight interview, he breaks his silence and shares his opinion, which as one may expect are far from laudatory: "JPM has 10-15 times the risk of a regular hedge fund... They should not be using my to play in something that is way too dangerous and too complicated for them... What I want [for JPM] is the following - skin in the game. People when they make money should get the upside, should get the upside; and people should be harmed when they have the downside. Hedge funds have that."... Finally Taleb loses it by comparing Wall Street to the mafia: "I am not an idealist. I am someone who doesn't want to be paying the $14 million dollars for this lady Ina Drew, which is more than John Gotti the mafioso got." Well, neither does anyone else. But, sadly, even Nassim now realizes that it is the financial mafia who owns this country and calls all the shots.

 
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