Guest post by Peter Tchir of TF Market Advisors on the JPM Trade.
Algos, Twitter, or Laziness?
I am surprised by the market reaction to the NY Times article about JP Morgan’s whale trade. The headline JP Morgan trading loss may reach 9 billion seems devastating. I can understand why a computer would react to the headline maybe programs missed the subtlety of the word “may”. But why are so many people reacting so quickly and selling the stock when the details don’t really say anything new? I thought Twitter restricted you from writing more than 140 characters, but maybe it has had a side effect of restricting people to reading 140 characters?
The loss amount referenced is useless:
So let’s look at what was written about the loss.
In April, the bank generated an internal report that showed that the losses, assuming worst-case conditions, could reach $8 billion to $9 billion, according to a person who reviewed the report.
This is it. A report from April, where under worst case conditions, the loss could reach $8 to $9 billion. So this isn’t a report from June. It isn’t a current estimate of the losses. It is long before Mr. Dimon actually told politicians that JPM would have a “solid” profitable quarter. As arrogant as he may or may not be, it would seem a stretch to believe he would tell such a whopper to politicians on national TV.
Since JPM revealed the 2 billion loss, media has speculated about the trades involved, the risk, who managed it and much more.Piece by Businessweek on JPM’s Dimon.
Jamie Dimon has the silver mane and piercing, gray-blue eyes of a chief executive officer from central casting, but he talks like one of his own charged-up traders. His blunt words tumble out in a New York hurry. Unlike other financial chieftains, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase (JPM) seems to relish using those words to berate the lawmakers and regulators that hold his bank’s fate in their hands. “Jamie has taken on this mantle of defending this entire industry,” Michael Driscoll, who worked for Dimon as a trader at the Smith Barney brokerage, told Bloomberg News earlier this year. “He’s combative by nature. And like a lot of these alpha dogs, when he’s backed into a corner, he’s going to bark back.”
Words like comeuppance, schadenfreude, and even Dimonfreude have been laid on liberally since May 10, when Dimon blamed a $2 billion trading loss in JPMorgan’s London office on a hedging strategy that he confessed was “flawed, complex, poorly reviewed, poorly executed, and poorly managed.” (Otherwise, fine.) On NBC’s Meet the Press, he said, “We know we were sloppy. We know we were stupid.” The loss has probably grown as hedge funds attack the bank’s exposed flank.
Anyone who thought Dimon might retreat—say, by giving an inch to regulators who want to tighten rules against risky proprietary trading—doesn’t know the man. On May 15, facing shareholders at JPMorgan’s annual meeting in Tampa, Dimon promised in his brisk style that “all corrective action will be taken.” He made no move, however, to mute his criticism of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was written to regulate the kind of high-risk behavior that caused the 2008 financial crisis. Nor did he give up any of his triumvirate of titles—chairman, CEO, and president—or forgo any of his 2011 pay, which came to $23 million in salary and bonuses. And he kept his prized seat on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, despite calls from the likes of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer for him to resign. (full reading here).