JPMorgan settlement: A personal vendetta, market justice or something else?
JPMorgan Chase (JPM) investors probably sat over their bowls of cereal Monday, waiting for what is likely to be a very interesting day on Wall Street.
Not only are they invested in a bank that reportedly entered into a $4 billion deal to settle legacy mortgage issues this past week, the firm also is considering a $13 billion deal to escape Department of Justice claims over some of the mortgages originated pre-meltdown, according to numerous reports.
Making matters worse, JPMorgan is mostly facing backlash from mortgages acquired at a time when it was rescuing other failing banks, so Dimon's firm didn't actually create the crisis on the originations side.
But it’s the market speculation that is causing most of the drama. Afterall, Jamie Dimon was once a friend to President Obama, making this situation akin to "As the World Turns" Pennsylvania Avenue-style.
But the friendship may have run cold as soon as Dimon became critical of the administration's economic policies, numerous articles suggest.
The big question on Wall Street: Is this market justice and are other banks on the line, or is JPMorgan in the administration’s crosshairs for a friendship gone wrong or for being too competent and casual in saying he is competent? These two views are prominent on the street.
Just go back to the 2012 archives of Politico. A May 2012 article illustrates a friendship gone south between Obama and Dimon, suggesting Obama leaned into Dimon until Dimon criticized the administration's economic policies.
The New York Post writes:
In one fell swoop, President Obama has made up more than half of the $24 billion cost of the government shutdown.
But the story doesn’t fit the typical narrative of fat cats who do bad stuff having to pay for their sins because the allegations against the bank are so warped.
The crimes that were committed occurred largely at banks that JP Morgan took over, at the behest of the government, during the 2008 financial crisis. Most of the other stuff the bank is accused of involves mismanagement, not out-and-out investor rip-offs of the Bernie Madoff variety. No, Dimon’s real sin, as I’ve pointed out on these pages before, was his withering critique of the Obama economic agenda, which he said was holding back the US economy.
A Wall Street Journal editorial recently summed up the situation this way:
Keep in mind that this is one bank that did not need taxpayer assistance in 2008 or since. And this partly explains why Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon is the Obama Administration's favorite Wall Street target. Washington in this era prefers dependent banks that quietly accept their role as money pots to be raided when politics demands. Mr. Dimon keeps deviating from the Obama script.
The settlement, which is widely reported, but not confirmed raises issues as to whether regulators are on a roll and going to demand similar deals with other large players. But the more compelling story is how one bank went from friend to foe so quickly.