Somewhat ironically, the "punishment" of Goldman and JPMorgan has boiled down to the punishment, or lack thereof, of two Frenchmen. On one hand, we have Fabrice Tourre, who we are led to believe (laughably so) was solely-responsible for all CDO-related transgressions at Goldman in the 2003-2007 period. On the other, we have the London Whale, former JPMorgan employee and also French citizen, Bruno Iksil who was the catalyst and public face, that led to the unwind of the biggest prop trading desk in history. But while Fabulous Fab was scapegoated to the full extend of the crony law, Bruno is set to walk. The reason: the London Whale has become the London Snitch.
"Mr. Martin-Artajo thought that the market was irrational."
- Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, US Senate, Report on JPM Whale Trades: A Case History of Derivatives Risks and Abuses, p. 104
Just like Breaking Bad, the most exciting trading drama of 2012 is coming to an end.
We do not inhabit a “normal” economy. We live in a financialised world in which our banks cannot be trusted, our politicians cannot be trusted, our money cannot be trusted, and – not least thanks to ongoing spasms of QE and expectations of much more of the same – our markets cannot be trusted. At some point (though the timing is impossible to predict), asset markets that cannot be pumped artificially any higher will start moving, under the forces of inevitable gravitation, lower.
Greed; corporate arrogance; lobbying influence; excessive leverage; accounting tricks to hide debt; lack of transparency; off balance sheet obligations; mark to market accounting; short-term focus on profit to drive compensation; failure of corporate governance; as well as auditors, analysts, rating agencies and regulators who were either lax, ignorant or complicit. This laundry list of causes has often been used to describe what went wrong in the credit crunch crisis of 2008-2010. Actually these terms were equally used to describe what went wrong with Enron more than twenty years ago. Both crises resulted in what at the time was the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history — Enron in December 2001 and Lehman Brothers in September 2008. Naturally, this leads to the question that despite all the righteous indignation in the wake of Enron's failure did we really learn or change anything?
There was a time when Jamie Dimon liked everyone to believe that his JPMorgan had a "fortress balance sheet", that he was disgusted when the US government "forced" a bailout on it, and that no matter what the market threw its way it would be just fine, thanks. Then the London Whale came, saw, and promptly blew up the "fortress" lie. But while JPM's precarious balance sheet was no surprise to anyone (holding over $50 trillion in gross notional derivatives will make fragile fools of the best of us), what has become a bigger problem for Dimon is that slowly but surely JPM has not only become a bigger litigation magnet than Bank of America, but questions are now emerging if all of the firm's recent success wasn't merely due to crime. Crime of the kind that "nobody accept or denies guilt" of course - i.e., completely victimless. Except for all the fines and settlements. Here is a summary of JPM's recent exorbitant and seemingly endless fines.
The Only Question On Jamie Dimon's Mind This Morning (As JPM Neither Admits Nor Denies It Is The Next Enron)Submitted by Tyler Durden on 07/30/2013 07:33 -0500
Now that the previously reported "fine" of $400 million which the firm just got slapped with following its manipulation of various energy markets, is fact...
- JPMORGAN AGREES TO PAY $410 MLN TO SETTLE U.S. ENERGY PROBE
... One may say JPM has just admitted it is the next Enron. One would be wrong: "JPMVEC admits the facts set forth in the agreement, but neither admits nor denies the violations." In other words, JPM is a Schrodinger Enron: it admits the facts that the company best known for manipulating electricity - a charge which in 2000 was enough to crush the company, and which is now a fine equal to 0.4% of the firm's $99.5 billion in revenues - but neither admits nor denies this. But the biggest question plaguing Jamie Dimon this morning, is whether he will pay the $410 million FERC find with a personal check... or petty cash.
Facts are treasonous and dangerous in an empire of lies, fraud and propaganda. It is maddening to watch the country spiral downward, driven to ruin by a psychotic predator class, while the plebs choose to remain willfully ignorant of reality and distracted by their lust for cheap Chinese crap and addicted to the cult of techno-narcissism. We are a country running on heaping doses of cognitive dissonance and normalcy bias, an irrational belief in our national exceptionalism, an absurd trust in the same banking class that destroyed the finances of the country, and a delusionary belief that with just another trillion dollars of debt we’ll be back on the exponential growth track. The American empire has been built on a foundation of cheap easily accessible oil, cheap easily accessible credit, the most powerful military machine in human history, and the purposeful transformation of citizens into consumers through the use of relentless media propaganda and a persistent decades long dumbing down of the masses through the government education system. This national insanity is not a new phenomenon. Friedrich Nietzsche observed the same spectacle in the 19th century: “In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.”
"This nigger wants to fight me!" the belligerent man yelled, cops said.... Reddish knocked him out with a blow to the face.
The final item of note from today's JPM release is perhaps also the most important one, and once again serves as evidence of all that is broken with the US financial system. To wit: deposits held by JPM rose modestly to a new all time high of $1,202,950 million, or $1.2 trillion. This compares to $970 billion in Q3 2008 at the time Lehman failed. What about the flip side of this key bank liability: loans. As of June 30, 2013, total JPM loans declined from $729 billion to $726 billion, the lowest since September 2012. But more disturbing, this number is $35 billion less than the $761 billion at September 2008. It means that JPM's excess deposits have now risen to a new all time high of $477 billion, up from $474 billion last quarter.
As we showed a few days ago in "Taper Fears Lead To Biggest Monthly Loss In Bank Securities Portfolios Since Lehman", JPM just reported the biggest hit to its Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income line since Lehman, which plunged from $3.5 billion to a miserable $0.4 billion. All we can say is hurray that Mark to Market is dead.
JPM Beats Thanks To $1.4 Billion Reserve Release; Net Interest Margin Drops To Record Low; Mortgage Production SlidesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/12/2013 06:37 -0500
Cutting through the noise of JPM's earnings, here are the salient facts: the company beat the bottom line expectation of $1.45 with an $1.60 ex-DVA print. However, this number included the now traditional "puffery" benefit from loan loss reserve releases, specifically $950MM pretax ($0.15 EPS) from mortgage loan loss reserves and $550MM pretax ($0.09) from credit cards. Additionally, the company reserved a whopping $600 million for litigation, or about $0.09, and according to the firm this should be backed out from the bottom line. Of course, that assumes the litigation against JPM will not be an ongoing, non-onetime event. In other words, ex-releases, JPM misses, however it was right in line if one assumes the litigation reserve was indeed one-time. In summary, the firm had a total of $19.4 billion in loan loss reserves and the release of $1.4 billion was the biggest since Q3 2012. What is worse going forward was the slide in Mortgage Production pretax income which was $582mm, down a whopping $349mm YoY, "reflecting lower margins and higher expense, partially offset by higher volumes and lower repurchase losses." For those curious how the rate spike has impacted JPM, here it is: mortgage originations down 7% Q/Q, and firmwide it dropped to $52 billion. But perhaps the worst news is that despite the dramatic spike up in yields at the end of the quarter, JPM reported a Net Interest Margin that in Q2 was the lowest ever, dropping to just 1.05% on a market-based basis, the firm's defined NIM slid to 2.20%.
Independence? Corzine's cooked and so is the Fed. But why did it take the CFTC two years to hunt down Corzine?
Paul Krugman meets Hannibal Lecter, Barack Obama stymies E.T., Ben Bernanke advises H.I. McDunnough, and more...
Over the course of decades we have allowed ourselves to be corrupted by the love of material possessions, the lure of a debt based faux wealth, the money for nothing entitlement promises of dishonorable politicians, the evil of currency debasement, the effectiveness of mass media propaganda, and the belief that we could sacrifice freedom and liberty for promises of safety and security made by a cabal of powerful rich men. Power has been concentrated into the hands of the few, who operate in secrecy and despise the people. They don’t want transparency or open debate. Freedom of speech is nothing but a thorn in their side. They believe they are smarter than the serfs and have no morality when it comes to committing illegal acts and disregarding the Constitution. They are not acting in the public interest. Their abuse of power and looting of the national wealth have put us on a path towards a bloody revolution. This is not a time for conformity, obedience or submission. It’s time to stand up and expose the evil doers. It’s time to rally around those who care about this country. Who are the real traitors? You know the answer.
There's no way to sugarcoat the dismal performance of the precious metals in recent months. But a revisitation of the reasons for owning them reveals no cracks in the underlying thesis for doing so. In fact, there are a number of new compelling developments arguing that the long heartbreak for gold and silver holders will soon be over.