Friday, June 29, 2012

Diamons in the rough

Bob Diamond: Barclays falsified Libor to protect bank during financial crisis
Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond has admitted for the first time that the bank made a conscious decision to falsify Libor rates in order to protect the bank at the height of the financial crisis.

“Even taking account of the abnormal market conditions at the height of the financial crisis, and that the motivation was to protect the bank, not to influence the ultimate rate, I accept that the decision to lower submissions was wrong,” he stated.

He said traders attempted to influence the rate in order to benefit their own desks’ trading positions. The bank made the decision in order to protect shareholders’ interests, he said.

Meanwhile, across the pond, in a boomerang sort of way, where Bob Dimon railed against the Volker rule, saying banks already have things under control,

JPMorgan Trading Loss May Reach $9 Billion
When Jamie Dimon, the bank’s chief executive, announced in May that the bank had lost $2 billion in a bet on credit derivatives, he estimated that losses could double within the next few quarters. But the red ink has been mounting in recent weeks, as the bank has been unwinding its positions, according to interviews with current and former traders and executives at the bank who asked not to be named because of investigations into the bank.

In its most basic form, the losing trade, made by the bank’s chief investment office in London, was an intricate position that included a bullish bet on an index of investment-grade corporate debt. That was later combined with a bearish wager on high-yield securities.

The chief investment office — which invests excess deposits for the bank and was created to hedge interest rate risk — brought in more than $4 billion in profits in the last three years, accounting for roughly 10 percent of the bank’s profit during that period.

In testimony before the House Financial Services Committee last week, Mr. Dimon said that the London unit had “embarked on a complex strategy” that exposed the bank to greater risks even though it had been intended to minimize them.

With much of the most volatile slice of the position sold, however, regulators are unsure how deep the reported losses will eventually be. Some expect that the red ink will not exceed $6 billion to $7 billion. To put the size of the loss in perspective, JPMorgan logged a first-quarter profit of $5.4 billion.

Nonetheless, the sharply higher loss totals will feed a debate over how strictly large financial institutions should be regulated and whether some of the behemoth banks are capitalizing on their status as too big to fail to make risky trades.

More than profits are at stake. The growing fallout from the bank’s bad bet threatens to undercut the credibility of Mr. Dimon, who has been fighting major regulatory changes that could curtail the kind of risk-taking that led to the trading losses. The bank chief was considered a deft manager of risk after steering JPMorgan through the financial crisis in far better shape than its rivals.

Investment bank reveals its team of London traders caused more damage than previously thought
The deals were made by a team led by French-born trader Bruno Iksil, nicknamed Voldemort after Harry Potter’s evil nemesis because he was such a ‘scary and powerful’ force in the City.
Isn't that cute.

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