“During the financial crisis, while Dr. Evil-ish Wall Street villains like Goldman and Lehman Brothers were getting all the bad press, pundits continually referred to J.P. Morgan Chase as the “good bank.” The myth of Chase as the finance sector’s one upstanding rock of rectitude reached its zenith in July of 2009 with an embarrassingly hagiographic piece in the New York Times entitled, “In Washington, One Bank Chief Still Holds Sway.” In that one, the paper breathlessly praised Jamie Dimon for emerging from “the disgrace of his industry” to become Barack Obama’s “favorite banker.”
“Chase and Jamie Dimon kept that rep for a good long time. As late as 2011, Dimon’s name was being floated around Washington very seriously as a potential replacement for Tim Geithner’s Treasury Secretary post. Even when Dimon showed up on the Hill last year to testify (read: obfuscate) about the infamous “London Whale” episode, Senators on the banking committee – who, as writer George Zornick noted, had collected a cumulative $522,088 in donations from Chase – slobbered all over Dimon and shelved the important London Whale matter to ask the great genius’s advice on how to fix the economy.
“Well, there’s some more news about the “good bank” – Chase is about to pay yet another ginormous settlement for cheating and stealing from the public. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will fine Chase “close to $1 billion” for manipulating energy prices in Enron-esque fashion in Michigan and California. The story is interesting in itself – and we’ll write more about it later – but for now, it’s just the fact of yet another massive settlement for this bank that’s so interesting.
“In the three-year period between 2009-2012, Chase paid out over $16 billion in litigation costs. Noted financial analyst Josh Rosner of Graham Fisher slammed Chase in a report earlier this year, pointing out that these settlements and legal costs represented a staggering 12% of Chase’s net revenue during this time. There couldn’t possibly be a clearer demonstration of the modern banking model, in which companies break rules/laws as a matter of course, and simply pay fines as a cost – a significant cost – of doing business.”
Read Matt Taibbi’s full Rolling Stone article here