Today's stories revolve around an easy enough theme of getting so big for your britches you lose touch with the rest of the world.
A few weeks ago a lot of stories popped up about the London Whale trading with JP Morgan whose positions were north of $100.0 billion and sending alarms all over the nation. As a single trader that is a lot of money and a lot of hedging and risk. That kind of money means the firm had to have positions that essentially were betting against its own customer. That was the narrative out of Washington as there was an immediate outcry from some to make the Volker rule stronger or beef up Dodd Frank. These rules ostensibly were supposed to protect customers but really a direct attack on bank profits.
Apparently the London Whale lost more than $2.0 billion on a bad hedge that backed up a bet on recovery in Europe. In many ways this is just part of the job, and the idea of losing money on a hedge is normally no big deal—par for the course. But this is about so much more. A contrite Jamie Dimon had to pause between collecting "man of the year" awards to hold a conference call where he called the loss "egregious" among several other choice words. I think his anger was aimed more at Washington than at the Whale as he understands at this precise moment in time his firm has served up more ammunition for lawmakers to tighten the noose on investment banks.
Ironically, you would think Washington would be happy to see the latest smartest guy on the street take a hit. In fact, I'm confused about outrage that comes when a Wall Street firm makes a couple billion is only matched when that same firm loses a couple of billion. Go figure. There is no doubt the sole goal of corralling Wall Street has been misplayed by all from day one. It's an amazing contradiction. President Obama and company aren't trying to kill the banks other than their reputation they want the money and power of these banks. It's like owning the prized bull at the state fair, but these bulls have the attitude and cunning of Moby Dick—and only BAC and C are willing to be pranced around for the crowd's pleasure.
So, Washington keeps pumping in money while layering more rules at the same time, at once fattening its prize but empowering the belligerence of these very banks. At the same time it's the little people (in this piece I guess the analogy would be the krill) whose needs go unmet. Many key Washington lawmakers are stuck in their own little bubble, moved by ideology and hatred for businesses that has made their decision-making a myopic crusade akin to chasing the big whale even as they pass other opportunities and put their own people at greater risk. If Washington uses this $2.0 billion loss for even more egregious (to borrow a word) rule
Charles V. Payne is a regular contributor to the Fox Business and Fox News Networks.
He is also the Chief Executive Officer and Principle Analyst of Wall Street Strategies, Inc. (WSSI)
, founded in 1991 which provides subscription analytical services to both individual and institutional investors.