Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Dimon jubilee

June 13, 2012

Jamie Dimon managed to turn a multibillion-dollar trading loss into a winning moment.

The CEO of JPMorgan came sailing into the Senate office building this morning with a smile, and gave a pitch-perfect performance in explaining how a small group of traders in its London office screwed up a hedging strategy so badly that they lost at least $2 billion.

Dimon was apologetic, but not groveling. He stood his ground, but was not combative. He gave the impression he was an open book, but managed to give precious few details about how much the trading loss has grown.

He came off as so in-control that senators asked HIM for advice about how Washington should police Wall Street.

Investors gave Dimon rave reviews, sending the shares up 1.5 percent while the overall bank stock index closed down for the day.

The question is whether Dimon can give repeat performances when he faces the more unruly House Financial Services Committee next week and reports the hard numbers on the trading debacle next month. That figure might just take its toll on the cool and collected Jamie Dimon.

Here are our top stories from Washington…

Dimon says losses indefensible, still reform skeptic
JPMorgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon told lawmakers that he could not defend how a hedging strategy in a London office morphed into a multibillion-dollar trading loss, but he still took swipes at regulatory reforms that he said fail to make sense. The Senate Banking Committee was mostly gentle with the polished and relaxed banker and did not force him to reveal whether the estimated $2 billion loss has significantly swelled. Dimon apologized for the self-inflicted loss that he said started as a genuine hedge that would make the firm a lot of money if a credit crisis hit.

For more of this story by Dave Clarke and David Henry, read here.

Obama’s gamble: Asking for more time to fix economy
So far, President Obama has not been able to convince most Americans that they are better off than they were four years ago. His next step may be to try to convince them that they would be worse off under his Republican rival, Mitt Romney. In an economic speech on Thursday that could set the tone for months of campaigning, Obama is not likely to unveil new ideas to boost the economy and create new jobs, according to Democrats familiar with the preparations for the address.

For more of this analysis by Andy Sullivan and Caren Bohan, read here.

In mini-surge, Romney predicts empty words from Obama on economy
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, riding a burst of momentum, predicted a major economic speech by President Obama this week will have soaring rhetoric but little substance. “My own view is that he will speak eloquently but that words are cheap,” Romney said.

For more of this story by Steve Holland, read here.

When Romney wasn’t so tough on China
Mitt Romney may be down on China and threatening to declare Beijing a currency manipulator from day one if he is elected president, but his past dealings with the country show he was not always so hostile.

For more of this story by Rachelle Younglai, read here.

Weak U.S. sales, inflation data favor Fed action
Retail sales fell for a second straight month in May and wholesale prices dropped by the most in three years, raising chances of further action by the Federal Reserve to shore up the flagging recovery. The data added to a raft of other recent signals, including reports on employment and manufacturing, that have pointed to a down shift in the economic recovery.

For more of this story by Lucia Mutikani, read here.

Like they did last summer: Fed may Twist again
It has become a familiar choreography for the Federal Reserve: Officials ease monetary policy, and the economy improves. Then conditions weaken, reviving debate about the need for further stimulus. The central bank again finds itself at that difficult juncture heading into a meeting next week. As Europe’s banking crisis intensifies and the labor market sputters, the Fed appears increasingly likely to offer more monetary stimulus – despite political opposition, internal reticence and concerns about whether it will be effective.

For more of this story by Pedro Nicolaci da Costa, read here.

Nuclear nominee aims to end NRC acrimony
The geologist nominated to head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission told senators that she plans to end the acrimony that plagued the agency under her predecessor, pledging respect for the four other members at the helm of the agency.

For more of this story by Roberta Rampton, read here.

Pentagon chief urges conditions for Pakistan aid
The United States should examine setting conditions for aid to Pakistan but not cutting it off, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, as he disclosed that Islamabad’s closure of supply routes to the Afghan war cost American taxpayers millions of dollars a month.

For more of this story by Phil Stewart, read here.

Republican senators urge Obama to withdraw Iraq envoy pick
A group of Republican senators called on President Obama to withdraw the nomination of Brett McGurk to be ambassador to Iraq, following reports that he had engaged in an extra-marital affair with a journalist.

For more of this story, read here.

Obama celebrates early Father’s Day with other dads
President Obama celebrated an early Father’s Day as he visited a barbecue restaurant to have lunch with four dads. Over a plate of beef ribs and steamed vegetables at Kenny’s BBQ on Capitol Hill, Obama chatted with two fathers who are on active duty in the military and two neighborhood barbers about an administration initiative aimed at highlighting the importance of fatherhood.

For more of this story by Samson Reiny, read here.

From elsewhere…

Investors plot hedges for healthcare law ruling
Investors could be excused for avoiding health insurance and hospital stocks as a Supreme Court decision nears on President Obama’s healthcare overhaul law – an outcome that could send the companies’ shares down 10 percent or more. Aside from an educated guess, little real analysis can predict a ruling that has at least a half-dozen possible results for a law that affects wide swathes of the healthcare industry.”It’s this never-never land,” said Tim Nelson, a healthcare analyst with Nuveen Asset Management.

For more of this story, read here.

Photo credit: JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is surrounded by the media as he arrives to testify before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on “A Breakdown in Risk Management: What Went Wrong at JPMorgan Chase?” on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 13, 2012. REUTERS/Larry Downing

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