Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Back on May 10, when JPMorgan announced its massive CIO trading loss (which may or may not have been unwound courtesy of a risk offboarding to another hedge fund which may or may not be backstopped by the Fed as the massive IG9 position was not novated but merely transferred) JPM also disclosed something else which may have bigger implications for the broader, and just downgraded, banking sector. As a reminder, in the 10-Q filing, the bank reported a VaR of $170 million for the three months ending March 31, 2012. This compared to a tiny $88 million for the previous year. According to the company, “the increase in average VaR was primarily driven by an increase in CIO VaR and a decrease in diversification benefit across the Firm.” What JPM really meant is that after being exposed in the media for having a monster derivative-based prop bet on its books, it had no choice, as it was no longer possible to use manipulated and meaningless risk "models" according to which the $2 billion loss, roughly 23 sigma based on the old VaR number, was impossible (ignoring that VaR is an absolutely meaningless and irrelevant statistical contraption). Turns out it is very much possible. Which brings us to the latest quarterly Office of the Comptroller of the Currency report, and particularly the chart on page 7. More than anything it shows what happens when a big bank is caught red-handed lying about its risk exposure. We urge readers to spot the odd one out.
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...
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.
There's a big, fat "I told you so" coming down the pike.
Bill Black is a former bank regulator who played a central role in prosecuting the corruption responsible for the S&L crisis of the late 1980s. He is one of America's top experts on financial fraud. And he laments that the US has descended into a type of crony capitalism that makes continued fraud a virtual certainty - while increasingly neutering the safeguards intended to prevent and punish such abuse. In this extensive interview, Bill explains why financial fraud is the most damaging type of fraud and also the hardest to prosecute. He also details how, through crony capitalism, it has become much more prevalent in our markets and political system. A warning: there's much revealed in this interview to make your blood boil. For example: the Office of Thrift Supervision. In the aftermath of the S&L crisis, this office brought 3,000 administration enforcements actions (a.k.a. lawsuits) against identified perpetrators. In a number of cases, they clawed back the funds and profits that the convicted parties had fraudulently obtained. Flash forward to the 2008 credit crisis, in which just the related household sector losses alone were over 70x greater than those seen during the entire S&L debacle. So how many criminal referrals did the same agency, the Office of Threat Supervision, make?
Foreclosure Fraud Settlement Documents Released, Read Them Here
Aspirin at the door
The CDS index market remains one of the most liquid sources of hedges and positioning available (despite occasional waxing and waning in volumes) and is often used by us as indications of relative flows and sophisticated investor risk appetite. However, as Kamakura Corporation has so diligently quantified, the broad CDS market (specifically including single-names) remains massively concentrated. This concentration, evidenced by the Honolulu-based credit guru's findings that three institutions: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citibank National Association, have market shares in excess of 19% each has shown little to no reduction (i.e. the market remains as closed as ever) and they warn that this dramatically increases the probability of collusion and monopoly pricing power. We have long argued that the CDS market is valuable (and outright bans are non-sensical and will end badly) as it offers a more liquid (than bonds) market to express a view or more simply hedge efficiently. However, we do feel strongly that CDS (indices especially) should be exchange traded (more straightforward than ever given standardization, electronic trading increases, and clearing) and perhaps Kamakura's work here will be enough to force regulators and the DoJ to finally turn over the rock (as they did in Libor and Muni markets) and do what should have been done in late 2008 when the banks had little to no chips to bargain with on keeping their high margin CDS trading desks in house (though the exchanges would also obviously have to step up to the plate unlike in 2008).
Indeed, the MF Global failure suggests that the US and EU banking systems may be facing a far larger problem than even the most bearish analysts suspect.
How US Banks Are Lying About Their European Exposure; Or How Bilateral Netting Ends With A Bang, Not A WhimperSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/01/2011 13:49 -0400
A little over a month ago, Zero Hedge started an avalanche in the financial sector, and an unprecedented defense thereof by the "independent" financial media and conflicted sell side, by being simply the messenger in pointing out that the gross exposure of one Morgan Stanley to the French banking sector is $39 billion. The firestorm of protests, which naturally focused on the messenger, and not the message, attempted to refute the claims that Morgan Stanley (and many others) are overexposed to Europe (both banks and countries) by stating that gross is not net, and that when one nets out "hedges" the real exposure is far, far lower. The logic is that bilateral netting, as the principle behind this argument is called, should always work - no matter the market, and that counterparty risk, especially when it comes to hedges, should always be ignored because banks will always honor their own derivative exposure. Obviously that this failed massively when AIG had to be bailed out, to preserve precisely the tortured and failed logic of bilateral netting was completely ignored, after all things will never get that bad again, right? Well, wrong. Because the argument here is precisely what the exposure is when the chain of netting breaks, when one or more counterparties go under (such as MF Global for example, which filed bankruptcy precisely due to its hedged (?) European exposure - luckily MF was not in the business of writing CDS on European banks or else all hell would be breaking loose right now). So little by little the story was forgotten: after all when everyone says gross is not net, contrary to what history shows us all too often, everyone must be right. Today it is time to refresh this story, as none other than Bloomberg pulls the scab right off and while confirming our observations, also goes further: yes, banks are not only massively exposed to Europe, but they are in essence misrepresenting this exposure to the public by a factor of well over ten!
Those so inclined can watch the Chairsatan and other regulators testify on financial oversight on year after Dodd-Frank enactment. Dep. Treasury Sec. Wolin, SEC Chair Schapiro, CFTC Chair Gensler, FDIC Acting Chair Gruenberg, Acting OCC Comptroller Walsh will also testify.
America's toothless regulators strike again. JPM, which recently got away virtually scott free with an identical settlement on CDO security fraud that dragged Goldman stock for months back in 2010, has once again exposed its "most favored fraud" status with America's regulators after Reuters announced that the firm will settle a charges of a 6 year long bid-rigging fraud in municipal securities with the SEC... for the princely sum of $35 million.
Elijah Cummings Asks Darrell Issa Why It Is Taking So Long To Subpoena The Big Banks On FraudclosureSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/21/2011 23:31 -0400
Describing new evidence of illegal foreclosures, inflated fees, and other widespread abuses, Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings wrote to Chairman Darrell Issa today to request that the Committee issue subpoenas to require mortgage servicing companies to produce previously-requested documents. “You have not hesitated—in other investigations—to issue subpoenas in a matter of days when your deadlines were missed, so it is unclear why a different standard applies to this investigation,” Cummings wrote. “This same sense of urgency should apply even when the targets of the Committee’s investigation are banks.” On February 10, 2011, the Committee voted unanimously to investigate “the foreclosure crisis including wrongful foreclosures and other abuses by mortgage servicing companies.” “If mortgage servicing companies are allowed to disregard requests for documents that are integral to this investigation, the Committee’s integrity will be called into question and, more importantly, abuses may continue,” Cummings wrote. Today’s letter from Cummings marks the fourth in a series of letters he has sent to Issa over the past six months urging the Committee to take action on wrongful foreclosures and other egregious abuses by mortgage servicing companies. On May 24, Cummings sent a letter to Issa requesting that the Committee issue subpoenas to six mortgage servicing companies that have refused to provide documents relating to foreclosure abuses. “The best long-term solution that our Committee can offer in response to illegal acts committed by mortgage servicing companies is vigorous investigation, oversight, and reform,” Cummings added. “Inaction will tacitly reward abuse and signal tolerance for major corporate wrongdoing.” So... what's wrong with that exactly?
Below we present some additional analysis on the implementation of Dodd-Frank's precious metal and FX OTC spot trading prohibition from law firm Morgan Lewis, as well as another potentially far more disturbing implication for non-US Hedge Funds which trade FX (and since virtually all hedge funds are located offshore due to tax implications, and since most hedge funds have now shifted to FX trading in an attempt to pursue volatility, we imagine this means absolutely everyone in the space). Basically it appears that hedge funds that have "one single US investor [who] has less than $10 million in investable assets, that fund will be classified as a retail FX fund. If an FX fund has investors that fail to meet the $10 million threshold,
that fund would therefore not be considered an eligible contract
participant. Gary Alan DeWaal, senior managing director and group general counsel at prime brokerage firm Newedge, said most non-US FX hedge funds seemed unaware of these obscure, burdensome requirements. “Most hedge funds would not think that they are retail funds. However, all it takes is one US client, who fits into this bracket to make them a retail FX fund. I think a lot of hedge funds could be forced to either throw out these clients from their funds or change their counterparties,” added DeWaal." Forget the liquidity freeze courtesy of Greece. Our own congressional and senatorial idiots are about to do it on their own without any country having to go into default.