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January 2, 2014

Off Limits, but Blessed by the Fed

The good news arrived in a confidential letter from the Federal Reserve Board in Washington. The nation’s biggest bank, JPMorgan Chase, had won the right to expand its reach in a lucrative business that has nothing to do with banking: electricity.

Areas like electricity are generally off limits to banks because of the risks involved. But with its June 2010 letter, the Fed let JPMorgan take an even bigger role selling electricity in California and the Midwest, saying the push would “reasonably be expected to produce benefits to the public that outweigh any potential adverse effects.”

Three months later, JPMorgan traders began a scheme to manipulate electricity prices, ultimately forcing consumers in those regions to pay more every time they flicked on a light switch or an air-conditioner, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission subsequently contended.”

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Read full New York Times article here

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