Dimon on the Whale: Nearing the End
Along with its first quarter earnings, JPMorgan Chase announced today that the bank had concluded two reviews of the losses by its Chief Investment Office. This is probably best known to you as the London Whale affair, after the nickname given to an employee in the CIO by traders taking the other side of his outsized positions in the derivatives market.
At 8 a.m. JPMorgan began a conference call to "discuss results" with journalists. This is in addition to the most more standard analyst call that will take place at 9 a.m. Journalists, excited by having our very own conference call, will universally make a big deal about this. Although since journalists will have received the reports, which total nearly 150 pages, just one hour before the call began, the questions from the press may be of limited utility (which a polite way of saying, "basically uninformed.")
8:14 am: Embarrassingly, that seems to be it. Journalists have apparently run out of questions. "Thank you all," says the mysterious operator woman.
8:10 am: Dimon says he was not part of the compensation decision of the board, which cut his pay in half. He says the board had a "tough job" and that he "respects" their decision.
8:09 am: Dimon says that analysts expect next year will be "a record year."
"We expect growth," he says.
8:08 am: CNBC's Kayla Tausche asks about the shape of the housing market, which Dimon has in the past described as turning a corner.
Dimon: "First quarter will probably be okay" for housing. He says that 75 percent of mortgage business will be in refis. Eventually, Dimon says, that number will come down when interest rates go up.
8:06 am: Tom Braithwaite asks "does this draw the line" under the London Whale affair.
Dimon responds: "We're getting near the end of it." Points out that there are still the consent orders, for which reports from the bank about management and risk reform are due. This quarter shows some Whale related losses. Dimon notes. It sure does: a $157 million loss n Treasury/CIO, where the Whale once swam. But Dimon says the direct economic impact has "mostly played out."
8:01 a.m.: The call has begun. Joe Evangelista, spokesman for the bank, introduces chief executive Jamie Dimon.
Dimon begins by making fun of journalists' sleeping habits: "Good morning. Sorry to wake you up so early."
Immediately hands the call over to a chief financial office, Marieanne Lake, who begins reciting numbers from the earnings press release.
"In conclusion a very strong quarter," she says in very typical banker talk.
7:55 a.m.: The two reports--one from the Management Task Force and another from the independent Review Committee of the bank's Board of Directors--are now available for download from JP Morgan's website.. The firm also filed with the SEC an 8-K Cliff Notes version of the reports, which can be read here by the lazy or the hurried. To tell you the truth, most people are only going to read the 8-K and it's all you'll need to sound clever at cocktail parties.
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