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Oct 2, 2012
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Maybe Jamie Dimon wasn’t so clever with Bear

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By Antony Currie

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Maybe Jamie Dimon wasn’t so clever with Bear Stearns after all. Back in March 2008, the JPMorgan chief executive looked pretty shrewd picking up the collapsed investment bank on the cheap, even after raising his offer five-fold to $10 a share. Dimon stuffed the Federal Reserve Bank of New York with $29 billion of Bear’s worst-looking mortgage assets. Not only did those securities wind up making money, but a new lawsuit filed by New York’s top lawman shows that JPMorgan didn’t cover all its bases.

Sep 19, 2012
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Goldman’s Mr. 25 Standard Deviation hard to follow

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By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Goldman Sachs’ Mr. 25 Standard Deviation was a Wall Street rarity. Despite an outlandish 2007 characterization of the crisis – “We were seeing things that were 25-standard deviation events, several days in a row” – that raised concerns he didn’t understand fat-tail risks, David Viniar played a big role saving his bank from the mortgage rout and was the blue-moon banker who succeeds as a chief financial officer. He’ll be a tough act to follow.

Sep 17, 2012
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U.S. Treasury stake not the millstone GM makes out

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By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

General Motors’ Dan Akerson deserves an A for effort. The automaker’s chief executive and his colleagues reckon the U.S. government’s 26.5 percent ownership hurts the Motown manufacturer’s image and its ability to hire people. But it’s not the millstone they make out.

Aug 10, 2012
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Goldman takes 2 legal steps forward, 700 mln back

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By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

It was a bittersweet Thursday for Goldman Sachs. The Wall Street powerhouse received a double dose of good news from Washington, a rare and welcome event for investors and Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein. First, the Securities and Exchange Commission dropped an investigation into a pre-crisis, Goldman-arranged $1.3 billion mortgage bond deal. Second, the U.S. Department of Justice decided it wouldn’t file criminal charges over the now-infamous Abacus deal. Yet Goldman was also forced to concede its legal worries are far from over. 

Reserves stockpiled for litigation expenses jumped by a quarter, from $2.7 billion to $3.4 billion, between March and June. That’s a big leap given that the last time the SEC pursued Goldman – over the Abacus transaction – the settlement stung the bank for a cool $550 million. 

Jul 27, 2012
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Jamie Dimon to Sandy Weill: drop dead

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By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Jamie Dimon’s management shake-up doesn’t just send a message to the bank’s employees and shareholders. The timing of the move – and the language in the announcement – serves as the JPMorgan chief executive’s response to the reignited debate over the structure of big financial institutions like his. Dimon lauded the idea of knitting JPMorgan’s parts together more tightly just as his former mentor Sandy Weill converted to the breakup cause. 

The JPMorgan reorganization has almost certainly been plotted for some time. But it’s also impossible to see the bank’s statements about “further unifying businesses around customer needs” and its “integrated approach” without reading into them a riposte to Weill’s arguments on Wednesday to separate commercial and investment banking from one another. It sure sounds like a raspberry from Dimon, whose working relationship with the modern Citigroup architect ended bitterly. 

Jul 26, 2012
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M&A Davids wallop Wall Street Goliaths

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By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Size used to matter in M&A. That’s no longer the case. Dealmaking Davids are walloping the Goliaths. 

Jul 20, 2012
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Citi, M. Stanley reveal randomness of M&A advice

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By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

It’s hard to imagine a worse advert for the worth of M&A valuation advice than Citigroup and Morgan Stanley’s battle to put a price on their wealth management joint venture. The two Wall Street firms are in negotiations for Morgan Stanley to boost its controlling stake by 14 percent to 65 percent. But their valuations for the business are a whopping $13.5 billion apart. 

The difference is some three-fifths of the $22 billion-plus Citi reckons the entire unit is worth. There are reasons for the gap, of course – and not just that buyers are always looking for a lower price and sellers for a higher one. 

Jul 17, 2012
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Goldman’s pay-earnings balancing act looks wobbly

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By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Goldman Sachs talks a good game about balancing short-term earnings with longer-term opportunities. In the current moribund environment, the moves by Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein and his lieutenants to tweak the Wall Street firm’s capital structure and trim its costs look savvy. But they’re still treating pay as sacrosanct.

Jul 16, 2012
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Citi global retail bank worth more than the whole

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By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Citigroup investors are giving no credit to much of the bank’s business. Its global retail bank looks to be worth over $80 billion, more than the company’s entire market capitalization. Despite the publication on Monday of another set of anemic quarterly earnings, something doesn’t add up.

Jul 13, 2012
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Jamie Dimon can’t swim past the whale just yet

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By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Jamie Dimon can’t escape the whale just yet. The JPMorgan boss reckons he and the bank are mostly over the Chief Investment Office trading debacle. He and his lieutenants presented a pretty solid explanation of how the division racked up $5.8 billion of losses so far. And the fixes sound sensible. But JPMorgan still has a lot of trust to win back.

    • About Antony

      "Antony Currie has more than a decade of experience as a financial journalist, having worked with Euromoney since 1996, most recently as a U.S. editor. He has worked on assignments in the major financial centers of Europe and the U.S. and written stories on capital markets, global economies and the investment banking industry. He holds a bachelor's degree in German language and literature and a master's degree in politics and international relations from the University of Bristol."
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