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March 19, 2013

Lesson of JPMorgan’s Whale Trade: Nothing Was Learned

“People have learned their lesson.

“We’ve been told that so many times since the near-death experiences of the financial crisis. Bankers and regulators have flipped roles: Now it’s the bankers who are cautious and their overseers who are aggressive.

“Details of JPMorgan Chase’s multibillion-dollar trading loss — brought to light by a riveting and devastating report from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations — demonstrate what a sham that is. Bankers aren’t acting cautious and chastened. Risk managers aren’t in the ascendance on Wall Street. Regulators remain their duped and docile selves.

“What we now know about the incident is that, as the cliché has it, the cover-up was worse than the crime. The losses out of the London office weren’t enough to take down the bank. But as they were building, JPMorgan traders fiddled with risk measures and valuations. The bank’s risk managers defended the traders and pooh-poohed the flashing red signals. The bank gave incorrect information to its regulator. Top executives then made misleading statements to shareholders and the public. All the while, the regulator served its typical role of house pet.”

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Read full ProPublica article here

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