Jamie Dimon and JPMorganâ€™s risk question
This morning, JPMorganÂ reported $5.4 billion in earnings, or $83 million per weekday. While management trumpeted the increased strength of the companyâ€™s â€śfortress balance sheetâ€ť (trademark pending), they also pushed back on a BloombergÂ report that a bank division called the Chief Investment Office had shifted from risk management toward large-scale speculation.
The CIO division, of course, is where the now infamous trader known as â€śVoldemortâ€ť works, and Bloomberg has compiled more evidence that the bank could have trouble with the Volcker Rule. Bloombergâ€™s reporting contradicts JPMorganâ€™s description of the CIO as a division that uses approximately $360 billion in excess deposits to manage risk, not to make bets for its own account:
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon has transformed the bankâ€™s chief investment office in the past five years, increasing the size and risk of its speculative bets, according to five former executives with direct knowledge of the changes.
Achilles Macris, hired in 2006 as the CIOâ€™s top executive in London, led an expansion into corporate and mortgage-debt investments with a mandate to generate profits for the New York- based bank, three of the former employees said. Dimon, 56, closely supervised the shift from the CIOâ€™s previous focus on protecting JPMorgan from risks inherent in its banking business, such as interest-rate and currency movements, they said.
On todayâ€™s earningsÂ call, Dimon called the story a â€śtempest in a teapot.â€ť
Dimonâ€™s comments are hard to square with one of the CIO divisionâ€™s traders writing aÂ reported$100 billion in protection on a single CDS index. Similarly perplexing was Dimonâ€™s statement that, because of CIO investments, JPMorgan would profit from rising rates.
Given Dimonâ€™s tone this morning â€“ â€śItâ€™s like having mozzarella for pizza, when it goes up a little your margins go down a little bit â€¦ that was a dumb analogy,â€ť he said at one point â€“ itâ€™s unlikely weâ€™ll get much more information about the bankâ€™s risk-taking.
Dimon joked: â€śI constantly read about counterparties.â€ť While weâ€™re secretly hoping heâ€™s talking aboutÂ us, the bankâ€™s actual counterparties are likely still waiting for answers.
Note: this is an excerpt. The full Counterparties email isÂ here.