Monday, May 14, 2012

JPMorgan's Big Loss: Explain it to Me

JPMorgan announced last week that it lost 2 billion dollars over the past six weeks. The local newspapers and talking heads made a huge deal about it. After all, it is 2 BILLION dollars, and the implied worries that the bank will go under, the economy will collapse and there were will be general mayhem abound.
However, that loss will not crash the bank, or anything else. According to the real money media, JPMorgan has more assets than any other bank in the country. Its net loss for the quarter is estimated to be $800 million and the bank made $5.4 billion in the first three months of the year alone.

But 2 billion dollars is a lot of money, and one has to wonder how in the world any one, or any financial institution, could lose that much money in a month. According to CNN Money and the Wall Street Journal, it is all caused by huge hedging transactions in credit default swaps. You remember them, they played a large part in the collapse in 2008 and 2009. According to the press, the credit default positions were so large that they caused unusual market movements, prompting hedge funds to take the opposite position.

So far, no one is saying that anyone did anything wrong, but we will have to wait and see on that one. But the back story is interesting, and starts at CNN Money - JPMorgan's big loss: Explain it to me 
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