JPMorgan Trader Accused Of "Breaking" CDS Index Market With Massive Prop Position
Earlier today we listened with bemused fascination as Blythe Masters explained to CNBC how JPMorgan's trading business is "about assisting clients in executing, managing, their risks and ensuring access to capital so they can make the kind of large long-term investments that are needed in the long run to expand the supply of commodities." You know - provide liquidity. Like the High Freaks. We were even ready to believe it, especially when Blythe conveniently added that JPM has a "matched book" meaning no net prop exposure, since the opposite would indicate breach of the Volcker Rule. ...And then we read this: "A JPMorgan Chase & Co. trader of derivatives linked to the financial health of corporations has amassed positions so large that he’s driving price moves in the multi-trillion dollar market, according to traders outside the firm." Say what? A JPMorgan trader has a prop (not flow, not client, not non-discretionary) position so big it is moving the entire market? And we are talking hundreds of billions of CDS notional. But... that would mean everything Blythe said is one big lie... It would also mean that JPMorgan is blatantly and without any regard for legislation, ignoring the Volcker rule, which arrived in the aftermath of Merrill Lynch doing precisely this with various CDO and credit indexes, and "moving the market" only to blow itself up and cost taxpayers billions when the bets all LTCMed. But wait, it gets better: "In some cases, [the trader] is believed to have “broken” the index -- Wall Street lingo for the market dysfunction that occurs when a price gap opens up between the index and its underlying constituents." So JPMorgan is now privately accused of "breaking" the CDS Index market, courtesy of its second to none economy of scale and fear no reprisal for any and all actions, and in the process causing untold losses to, you guessed it, its clients, but when it comes to allegations of massive manipulation in the precious metals market, why Blythe will tell you it is all about "assisting clients in executing, managing, their risks." Which client would that be - Lehman, or MFGlobal? Perhaps it is time for a follow up interview, Ms Masters to clarify some of these outstanding points?
The trader is London-based Bruno Iksil, according to five counterparts at hedge funds and rival banks who requested anonymity because they’re not authorized to discuss the transactions. He specializes in credit-derivative indexes, an off-exchange market that during the past decade has overtaken corporate bonds to become the biggest forum for investors betting on the likelihood of company defaults.
Investors complain that Iksil’s trades may be distorting prices, affecting bondholders who use the instruments to hedge hundreds of billions of dollars of fixed-income holdings. Analysts and economists also use the indexes to help gauge interest rates that companies must pay for new credit.
Though Iksil reveals little to other traders about his own positions, they say they’ve taken the opposite side of transactions and that his orders are the biggest they’ve encountered. Two hedge-fund traders said they have seen unusually large price swings when they were told by dealers that Iksil was in the market.
So how long until Bruno Iksil, and his massive one way bet, becomes the next Glenn Hadden, or the next Howie Hubler, or the next Boaz Weinsten? And how long until US taxpayer have to bail him out, either with direct rescue money, or with commingled deposits used to plug trading losses? Because MFGlobal was just an appetizer as to how JPM operates with "segregated" money.
Repeating the punchline again, because it bears repeating.
In some cases, Iksil is believed to have “broken” the index -- Wall Street lingo for the market dysfunction that occurs when a price gap opens up between the index and its underlying constituents, the people said. The persistence of price dislocations has frustrated some hedge funds that were betting on the gap to close over time, the people said.
And that, for those confused, is how JPMorgan operates: they lie about everything, fully aware they have perpetual immunity because they are more powerful than the Fed (just recall Jamie Dimon's symbolic spitting in the face of Ben Bernanke), they are a tri-party repo dealer thus in the center of the entire shadow banking system, and have the biggest single-bank derivative exposure in the world, at $70 trillion as of December 31.
JPMorgan is modern finance.
And because of they they can and will get away with everything, lying on prime time TV most certainly included.
Yet while JPMorgan may manipulate the gold, silver, or any other market, for its or the Fed's agenda, there is a silver lining: it allows everyone to buy physical assets at artificially deflated paper spot prices. And for that, JPM should be thanked. Because until the grand reset takes place, JPMorgan will never be held accountable for any of its actions in the current status quo regime. Period.
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