News Release

Standing Up to JPMorgan’s Dimon and “Hedginess”


STEPHANY GRIFFITH JONES, sgj2108 at columbia.edu
Stephany Griffith Jones is Financial Markets Program Director at the Initiative for Policy Dialogue at Columbia University. With José Antonio Ocampo, and Joseph E. Stiglitz she co-edited “Time for a Visible Hand: Lessons from the 2008 World Financial Crisis.” She said today: “Two billion dollar losses in JPMorgan give us further confirmation of the need to regulate the financial system much more, particularly increasing transparency of derivatives, forcing all derivatives on exchanges, and tightening the Volcker rule. Dilution of regulation by financial interests must be resisted strongly. More radical questions need to be asked: whether such complex financial activity, where risks are impossible to measure, and with no positive effect on the real economy, should be allowed at all?”

WILLIAM K. BLACK, blackw at umkc.edu
Available for a limited number of interviews, Black is now an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City and the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One. He was the deputy staff director of the national commission that investigated the cause of the savings and loan debacle. He just wrote a piece for CNN which states: “Financial institutions such as JPMorgan love to buy derivatives because they are opaque, create fictional income that leads to real bonuses and when (not if) they suffer losses so large that they would cause the bank to fail, they will be bailed out. The Dodd-Frank Act’s Volcker Rule was designed to solve the problem.

“However, JPMorgan led the effort to gut the Volcker Rule and the provision that requires transparency. JPMorgan is the world’s largest proprietary purchaser of financial derivatives — precisely what the Volcker Rule sought to end. The bank claims that it does not engage in proprietary trading and that it purchases derivatives solely to hedge. That claim is an example of what Stephen Colbert meant when he invented the term: ‘truthiness.’

“A hedge is an investment that offsets losses in another investment. JPMorgan’s supposed hedges aren’t hedges under accounting rules because they haven’t been shown to perform as hedges. JPMorgan bought tens of billions of dollars of derivatives that increased its losses rather than reduced them. It calls these anti-hedges ‘hedges’ — in other words, it practiced ‘hedginess.’”

On Friday, Black will be speaking at a United Nations summit on the “State of the World Economy and Finance in 2012.”

GERALD EPSTEIN, gepstein at econs.umass.edu
Professor of economics and a founding co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Epstein just wrote the piece “Standing Up to Jamie Dimon: Is it Safe?” which states: “How do we stand up to Jamie Dimon and the other tax payer subsidized bankers that use the privileged position of tax payer underwritten banks to engage in risky activity that harms the real economy and generates massive salaries and bonuses for the bankers (Ina Drew is reportedly in line to make $14 million this year).

“First, we must unmask the Republican and Democratic politicians that have actively served to eviscerate the Dodd-Frank rules on proprietary trading, derivatives and swaps regulations and other parts of the Dodd-Frank regulations, in the name of job creation and liquidity enhancement. The regulators at the Federal Reserve, Securities and Exchange Commission and others must be badgered to write and enforce rules that implement strict enforcement of the Dodd-Frank rules against proprietary trading, controls over derivatives…

“But such provisions will not be enough because banks will eventually find ways around them and continue to act like the world is one big casino and ponzi palace. There is increasing recognition by economists and public officials that the too big to fail banks need to be cut down to size. Senator Sherrod Brown has introduced the SAFE banking act”

Epstein was just interviewed by The Real News