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October 7, 2013

Has JPMorgan become an argument for breaking up the banks?

Is JPMorgan Chase too big to manage? Or is its leadership just not up to the job? With penalties pending, the question is current. Given its importance to the financial system, an answer is pressing.

Today’s JPMorgan is the result of relentless M&A. It houses the former Chemical Bank, Manufacturers Hanover Trust, Chase Manhattan, First Chicago, Banc One, and Morgan Guarantee Trust – to name but a few. Since the crisis, Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual have joined the fold. Each component was a large and complex institution. Many ranked within the top 10 of their day. So not surprisingly, JPMorgan is a veritable banking behemoth.

Its balance sheet weighs in at more than $2tn according to its US accounts; $4tn if European rules, which do not allow exposures to derivatives to be netted off, applied. As global agreements for the resolution of global banks are not yet in place, JPM remains both too big and too interconnected to let fail. Yet given that bank’s slender sliver of loss-absorbing capital, it might also prove ‘too big to bail’.”

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Read Bob Jenkins’ full Financial Times opinion piece here

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