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Gartman: ‘Rogue’ Trader Scenario Unlikely in JPMorgan Loss

Friday, 11 May 2012 | 6:52 AM ET

The $2 billion trading loss announced by JPMorgan Chase on Thursday as a result of a failed hedging strategy does not bear the earmarks of coming from only a “rogue” trader, and developments that follow are more likely to get worse for the Wall Street bank rather than better, Dennis Gartman, founder of The Gartman Letter, told CNBC on Friday.

Jamie Dimon
Getty Images
Jamie Dimon

"I operate under the old rule that there is never just one cockroach, when ill news comes out there is usually more ill news to follow,” the famed investor and former floor trader said.

“This clearly isn’t a rogue. This is not the same thing that happened at SocGen, by any stretch of the imagination,” said Gartman, making reference to the 2008 trading losses suffered by French Bank Societe Generale at the hands of a single trader, Jerome Kerviel.

A JPMorgan spokesman in London told CNBC that the bank is not commenting at this time.

While stressing that not all the facts are yet available, Gartman said he believed the failed hedging mechanism appeared more akin to “a proprietary trading operation,” whereby a bank uses its own money rather than its customers’ money to trade stocks, bonds, currencies, and other financial instruments.

JPMorgan's $2 Billion Loss
Dennis Gartman, founder of The Gartman Letter, told CNBC, "I operate under the old rule that there is never just one cockroach, when ill news comes out there is usually more ill news to follow. The market now knows the positions that Morgan's group has and when the other guy knows what you have they make it very uncomfortable to get out."

Such “prop trading” would be a violation of the Volcker rule , which is not law but is currently being considered by Congress.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, an outspoken critic of the Volcker rule, denied to analysts and reporters on Thursday that the loss stemmed from any trade that would be a violation of the rule.

Gartman added that the market will make it difficult for JPMorgan to unwind its losing position.

“The market now knows the positions that Morgan's group has, and when the other guy knows what you have they make it very uncomfortable to get out," Gartman said.

“The sad thing is now that we known where these positions lie it’s going to be even more difficult for JPMorgan to get out of them,” he added.

JPMorgan shares fell almost 7 percentbefore U.S. markets opened Friday and dragged other financial shares lower. Citigroup fell 3.6 percent and Bank of America shares dropped 2.6 percent.

—By CNBC's Matthew West

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