More London Whale Postmortem

Michael Stephens | June 7, 2013

The US Senate investigation of JPMorgan Chase’s Chief Investment Office (CIO), and more specifically of the operations of its Synthetic Credit Portfolio (SCP) unit — otherwise known as the “London Whale” trades — concluded with the release of their full report in March.   The report alleges that the CIO operated without a clear mandate and that its hedging activities were inappropriate.  Neither of these claims, says Jan Kregel, gets to the real problem with the London Whale episode:

The problem arose when JPMorgan Chase created the equivalent of a shadow bank that funded the SCP’s short positions through what was in effect a Ponzi scheme. Further, while proprietary trading was involved in the losses, the real problem was that the bank was allowed to operate across all aspects of finance and the difficulties that this creates for efficient macro hedging. If we are to reduce systemic risk, not only must banks provide regulators with more detailed information on their balance sheet hedging, but it is also necessary to rethink the 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act, as it has led to banks that are too big to fail, manage, or regulate.

Read the rest here.


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