JPMorgan Chase

From SourceWatch
(Redirected from J. P. Morgan Chase)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Campaign to Fix the Debt
Company Profile
Company Name JPMorgan Chase
CEO Name Jamie Dimon
CEO Compensation $23,105,415
CEO Retirement Assets $558,515
Annual Company Revenue $97,234,000,000
Territorial Tax Break $4,900,000,000
Federal Lobbying/Political Donations ('09-'12*) $26,100,000
Click here for sources.
2011 data unless otherwise noted.
©2013 Center for Media and Democracy

JP Morgan Chase & Co. is a global financial institution based in the United States. The firm was founded in 1799 in New York City.[1] Its role in the U.S. financial crisis that began in 2008 as well as other controversies is discussed in detail below. Their private equity arm is One Equity Partners.

Access JPMorgan Chase's corporate rap sheet compiled and written by Good Jobs First here.


Ties to Pete Peterson's "Fix the Debt"

The Campaign to Fix the Debt is the latest incarnation of a decades-long effort by former Nixon man turned Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson to slash earned benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare under the guise of fixing the nation's "debt problem." JPMorgan Chase is part of the Campaign to Fix the Debt as of February 2013.

This article is part of the Center for Media and Democracy's investigation of Pete Peterson's Campaign to "Fix the Debt." Please visit our main SourceWatch page on Fix the Debt.

About Fix the Debt
The Campaign to Fix the Debt is the latest incarnation of a decades-long effort by former Nixon man turned Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson to slash earned benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare under the guise of fixing the nation's "debt problem." Through a special report and new interactive wiki resource, the Center for Media and Democracy -- in partnership with the Nation magazine -- exposes the funding, the leaders, the partner groups, and the phony state "chapters" of this astroturf supergroup. Learn more at and in the Nation magazine.

Five Banks Plead Guilty, Pay $5.6 Billion in Fines Over Currency Manipulation

Five major banks, including JP Morgan Chase, "agreed to plead guilty to U.S. felony charges for rigging foreign currency exchange rates and pay a total of nearly $5.7 billion in fines" in May 2015, according to the L.A. Times. The banks agreed to the fines and three years of "corporate probation" with federal supervision and regular reporting requirements as part of a settlement agreement with U.S. and European officials.[2] Somewhat unusually, it was the banks' parent companies that entered guilty pleas, not subsidiaries.[3]

Traders at Citicorp, JP Morgan Chase, Barclays, the Royal Bank of Scotland, who reportedly referred to themselves as "The Cartel," were accused of manipulating currency prices between December 2007 and January 2013. The banks "each agreed to plead guilty to one felony count of conspiring to fix prices and rig bids for foreign currency exchange," the L.A. Times reported.[2]

The fifth bank, UBS, was found to have violated an earlier agreement made in 2012 after a Justice Department investigation into manipulation of Libor, a key global interest rate.[2]

Prosecutors said that traders "colluded to pad their returns from at least 2007 and 2013. To carry out the scheme, one trader would typically build a huge position in a currency, then unload it at a crucial moment, hoping to move prices. Traders at the other banks would play along, coordinating their actions in online chat rooms."[3]

The New York Times described the case as

"paint[ing] the portrait of something more systemic: a Wall Street culture that enabled many big banks to break the law even after years of regulatory black marks after the crisis.
“If you aint cheating, you aint trying,” one trader at Barclays wrote in an online chat room where prosecutors say the price-fixing scheme was hatched."[3]

Individual fines were:[2]

  • Citicorp: $925 million
  • Barclays: $550 million, plus a $60 million criminal penalty for violating an earlier agreement related to a Libor manipulation investigation in 2012, and $1.3 billion in settlements to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the New York State Department of Financial Services and the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority
  • JP Morgan Chase: $550 million
  • Royal Bank of Scotland: $395 million
  • UBS $203 million, for violating a 2012 Libor investigation agreement. UBS also pled guilty to one count of wire fraud.

In addition, the Federal Reserve announced that it would impose $1.6 billion in fines on the banks.[2]

Awarded for London Whale Fiasco

In April 2012 Bloomberg News reported that JPMorgan Chase was the bank behind massive trades in credit-derivative indexes that were distorting the world market. At fault was the French-born London trader, Bruno Iksil, who had amassed positions so large that his trades were driving price moves.[4] In the end, Iksil, dubbed the "London Whale" by some traders, was responsible for $6.2 billion in trading losses that resulted in a U.S. Senate investigation and an ongoing FBI probe.[5]

One year later, JPMorgan Chase, who repeatedly misled the public, investors and regulators about the London Whale trades, received an award for "best crisis management" from IR Magazine.[5][6] As the Wall Street Journal reported:

"'J.P. Morgan Chase is winning for its handling of the $6.2 billion trading loss by the London whale last year,' said the event's host, CNN anchor Ali Velshi. 'I would say that's what you call making lemonade out of lemons.' Kathy Hu, an executive director in J.P. Morgan's investor-relations department, accepted the award and quipped: Can I just say, 'Crisis? What crisis?'"[6]

JPMorgan's lies are detailed in a report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations chaired by Senator Carl Levin, which "details how America's largest bank and the largest derivatives trader in the world used 'excess' deposits, including some that were federally insured, to construct a $157 billion portfolio of synthetic credit derivatives to engage in high-risk, complex, short term trading strategies."[5]

These were the type of trades that were supposed to be prevented by the "Volcker Rule" of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill that seeks to limit proprietary trading by firms (the rule still has not been implemented).[5]

As Senator John McCain stated: "These excess deposits should have been used to provide loans for main-street businesses. Instead, JPMorgan used the money to bet on catastrophic risk."[5]

Securities Fraud

After the Bloomberg News story broke, "JPMorgan hosted a regular earnings call and prepped talking points for participants."[5] On that call, JPMorgan's Financial Officer, Douglas Braunstein, assured investors and the public that "the activities of the Synthetic Credit Portfolio (SCP) were made on a long-term basis, were transparent to regulators, had been approved by the bank's risk managers, and served a hedging function that lowered risk and would ultimately be permitted under the Volcker Rule whose regulations were still being developed."[5] At the same time, CEO Jamie Dimon dismissed the media reports as "a tempest in a teapot."[5]

However, as the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations points out, none of these statements were true[5]. In addition, as PRWatch highlights from the Senate report, both Dimon and Braunstein, made misstatements:

  • More than a Tempest in a Teapot. In response to a question, CEO Jamie Dimon dismissed media reports about the SCP as a "tempest in a teapot." While he later apologized for the comment, "the evidence indicates Dimon was already in possession of information about the SCP's complex and sizable portfolio, its sustained losses for three straight months, the exponential increase in those losses during March, and the difficulty of exiting the SCP's positions."
  • Omitting Risk Model Change. Near the end of January, the bank approved use of a new Value-at-Risk (VaR) model that cut in half the purported risk profile of the portfolio, but failed to disclose VaR model changes on numerous occasions. The change in the VaR methodology effectively masked significant changes in the portfolio. Dimon personally approved changes to the VaR model as seen in an email below and on page 363 of the exhibits.
  • Mischaracterizing Involvement of Firm-wide Risk Managers. Braunstein stated that "all of those positions are put on pursuant to the risk management at the firm-wide level." The evidence indicates, however, that in 2012, JPMorgan's firm-wide risk managers knew little about the SCP and had no role in putting on its positions
  • Mischaracterizing the Portfolio as "Fully Transparent to the Regulators." Braunstein said that the SCP positions were "fully transparent to the regulators," who "get information on those positions on a regular and recurring basis as part of our normalized reporting." In fact, according to the Senate investigation, the SCP positions had never been disclosed to bank regulators in any regular bank report. (Dimon also played a role in the withholding of regular profit and loss reports from federal regulators).
  • Mischaracterizing Portfolio Decisions as "Made on a Very Long-Term Basis." Braunstein also stated that with regard to "managing" the stress loss positions of the portfolio "[a]ll of the decisions are made on a very long-term basis." In fact, credit traders engaged in daily derivatives trading. "His description was inaccurate at best and deceptive at worst," concluded Senate investigators.
  • Mischaracterizing "Whale" Trades as Providing "Stress Loss Protection." Braunstein indicated that the portfolio was intended to provide "stress loss protection" to the bank in the event of a credit crisis, essentially presenting the portfolio designed to lower rather than increase bank risk. But the statement was contradicted by others at the firm.
  • Asserting Trades Were Consistent with the Volcker Rule. Braunstein concluded with: "[W]e believe all of this is consistent with what we believe the ultimate outcome will be related to Volcker." But the bank had earlier written to regulators expressing concern that the derivatives trading would be "prohibited" by the Volcker Rule.[5]

In the aftermath of the report and in light of the fact that the Department of Justice has chosen not to indict, some are questioning whether New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will build on the Senate committee's job and and use New York's Martin Act hold JPMorgan executives accountable.[5]

Financial crisis & bailout

Role in crisis & financial "innovation"

In her book Fool's Gold, Financial Times columnist Gillian Tett focuses on the “innovation evangelists” in the firm. A team within JP Morgan developed many of the financial products like credit derivative, which almost brought down the financial system in 2008. The long subtitle of the book sums up her research: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Financial Catastrophe.[7] A JP Morgan executive told Tett, that the idea of creating markets for credit derivatives was first developed at a 1994 company retreat in Boca Raton (Florida):

“It was in Boca where we started talking seriously about credit derivatives. That was where the idea really took off, where we really had a vision of how big it could be.” [8]

Credit derivatives are a type of insurance that allows lenders to off load risks of default on the loans they have made. In 1986, the Federal Reserve, chaired by Alan Greenspan, a former director of JP Morgan; suggested credit derivatives would allow banks to lower capital requirements. Credit derivatives pair those who want to take on risks, with those who want to be hedged against it. While JP Morgan did not invent credit derivatives, it was the first to “industrialize” them; mass producing derivative deals which could cover large numbers of loans at once.[9]

The purpose behind credit derivatives was to enable JP Morgan to circumvent regulatory capital requirements. The company successfully convinced regulators that it could use credit derivatives to shift risk associated with the loans it made. Therefore, it did not need to set aside capital to cover losses in the event that borrowers defaulted. With credit derivatives, JP Morgan not only succeeded in shifting risks off its own books, but created a rapidly expanding market which raked in billions in fees for financial institutions. A journalist covering JP Morgan in the 1990’s commented:

“They thought they were the smartest guys on the planet. They had found this brilliant way to get around the rules, to play around with all this risk. And they were just so proud of what they had done.” [10]

Bill Winters, CEO of JP Morgan Chase’s investment bank until 2009 and a leader in the drive to innovate; denies that credit derivatives had anything to do with the 2008 financial crisis. He points instead to “bad mortgage lending, bad risk management practices, how the innovation was used”.[11] Winters also has blamed the crisis on “greedy bankers, investors and borrowers”, as well as “inept risk managers who relied on the rating agencies”. [12]

However, Frank Partnoy, a former trader with Morgan Stanley, has argued that the crisis would have been much less extreme without derivatives:

“Without derivatives, the total losses from the spike in subprime mortgage defaults would have been relatively small and easily contained. ...Instead, derivatives multiplied the losses from subprime mortgage loans, through side bets based on credit default swaps." [13]. Still more credit default swaps, based on defaults by banks and insurance companies themselves, magnified losses on the subprime side bets.”[14]

Opposition to regulation: Lobbying against Glass-Steagall Act

JP Morgan has campaigned for the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, since it was first introduced in 1933. From the company’s founding in the 1860’s until the Depression, JP Morgan grew into a major financial powerhouse, by combining the commercial and investment sides of banking. According to Ron Chernow, author of The House of Morgan:

“The Glass-Steagall Act took dead aim at the House of Morgan. After all, it was the bank that had most spectacularly fused the two forms of banking.” [15]According to Chernow, the Morgan financial empire:
“was shattered by the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which erected a high wall between commercial banking (making loans and accepting deposits) and investment banking (issuing stocks and bonds).”

To conform with Glass-Steagall, J.P. Morgan became a commercial bank and established Morgan Stanley as a separate investment bank. [16] JP Morgan was accused of keeping to the letter, but not the spirit of the Glass-Steagall Act, because of the close ties it initially maintained with Morgan Stanley. Most of Morgan Stanley’s preferred stock was owned by JP Morgan executives; JP Morgan referred clients to Morgan Stanley and Morgan Stanley trades were cleared at JP Morgan. A lawyer for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accused JP Morgan of creating a “legal fiction” in Morgan Stanley, in order to maintain its investment banking business. However, by the 1980’s, Morgan Stanley was breaking away from traditional, conservative JP Morgan culture to engage in riskier activities. [17]

In the 1980’s, JP Morgan spearheaded an attempt to repeal Glass-Steagall, but failed to convince the then chair of the Federal Reserve, Paul Volcker. Volcker was concerned about banks getting into risky activities, then having to be bailed out by the government. Alan Greenspan, who was a Morgan director at the time, promoted the bank’s case against Glass-Steagall. According to Chernow:

“The House of Morgan led the fight to repeal Glass-Steagall. Like other banks, it tried to scramble into so many investment bank activities that congress would have to rubber-stamp the marketplace reality. Lew Preston (JP Morgan’s president and CEO) also believed in making an intellectual case for change. In 1984, the bank produced a treatise called "Rethinking Glass-Steagall." One patron was Alan Greenspan, then a Morgan director, who followed Paul Volcker as Fed chairman. According to a JP Morgan Insider:
"Greenspan was very instrumental in getting that document out."[18]

Charles Geisst, a Professor of Finance at Manhattan College, recounts how Greenspan undermined the Glass-Steagall Act, first as a JP Morgan director and then as Chair of the Federal Reserve:

“When (Greenspan) was a director of J.P. Morgan & Company in the 1980s, Morgan produced a pamphlet called "Rethinking Glass-Steagall," in 1984, which he was obviously privy to and had contributed to…The pamphlet was advocating getting rid of the Glass-Steagall Act and the separation between commercial and investment banking, so that commercial bankers particularly could begin to underwrite corporate securities again, as they hadn't done since before 1933.” [19]

During the 1990’s as Chair of the Fed, Greenspan effectively gutted the Glass-Steagall Act by using loopholes in the Bank Holding Company Act. These loopholes enabled him to allow commercial banks like JP Morgan, to earn a percentage of their total revenues from investment bank types of activities. Professor Geisst explains that :

“Single-handedly, the Fed got rid of the Glass-Steagall Act over a period of about six or seven years. That preceded the actual change in the law, which came eventually, after the fact, in 1999.” [20] Subsequent to the repeal of Glass-Steagall, JP Morgan rapidly entered the investment banking field, so that by the first quarter of 2010, three quarters of the bank’s profits came from investment operations. [21]

Robert Weissman and Harry Rosenfeld identified the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, as one of the main causes of the 2008 financial crisis. According to Weissman and Rosenfeld:

“The 1999 repeal of Glass-Steagall helped create the conditions in which banks invested monies from checking and savings accounts into creative financial instruments such as mortgage-backed securities and credit default swaps, investment gambles that rocked the financial markets in 2008.” [22]

Lobbying against regulation of derivatives

JP Morgan was a founding member of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, established in 1985. One of the early successes of this industry lobby was to block a Commodities Futures Trading Commission proposal to require all derivative trading be done on its exchange. In the early 1990’s, when the New York Federal Reserve was proposing regulation of derivatives, JP Morgan assigned Mark Brickell to lobby against it. Brickell became JP Morgan’s and the industry’s “Rottweiler in fending off regulatory concerns.” Brickell is a libertarian and an admirer of economist Frederich von Hayek. Arguing that markets are inherently efficient, Brickell said government regulation of derivatives should be opposed because:

“Markets can correct excess far better than any government. Market discipline is the best form of discipline there is.” [23]

Despite complaints about the aggressiveness of the Brickell's Washington anti-regulation campaign, Alan Greenspan and others in the Clinton Administration were open to his arguments. By the end of 1994, all four bills to regulate derivatives had been dropped. [24] In a 1998 statement submitted on behalf of JP Morgan to the House of Representatives Committee on Banking and Financial Services, Brickell argued against a renewed effort by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to regulate derivatives. [25] Brooksley Born, the chair of the Commission from 1996 to 1999, became concerned over the deregulated status of derivatives after their roles in other financial disasters, such as the bankruptcy of Orange County. However, her agency was not even able to exercise its responsibility to prevent fraud, due to the complete lack of transparency in derivatives trading. [26]

JP Morgan’s position, as advocated by Brickell, was that Brooksley Born’s suggestions that derivatives might be regulated:

“undermined the carefully crafted legal certainty that these instruments currently enjoy” and represented “a troubling shift in CFTC policy that is contrary to the express intent of Congress...”

Brickell argued that the existing system, largely relying on market players to police themselves, worked best:

“Market discipline refers to a system in which market participants control their risks because it is in their own best interest to do so. It exists when participants know they will be forced to bear the costs of their mistakes because no one will assume these costs for them. It works because those who ignore it fail, while those who take it seriously are able to thrive. And it has the paradoxical effect of increasing the likelihood that individual firms will fail, while reducing the prospect of widespread difficulties in the financial system. Market discipline works largely through attempts by swap dealers to improve both their reputation and credit quality. These competitive advantages differentiate those who succeed from those who fail.”[27]

By 2008, financial institutions made massive derivative bets on the US housing market, could not be “forced to bear the costs of their mistakes” because of the catastrophe their failure would have caused the US and the world economy. Alan Greenspan, testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, argued that the government bailout was necessary:

“to avoid severe retrenchment, banks and other financial intermediaries will need the support that only the substitution of sovereign credit for private credit can bestow.” He also retreated from his longstanding advocacy of the notion that markets would police themselves. Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholder’s equity (myself especially) are in a state of shocked disbelief”.[28]

Dealings with AIG

JP Morgan was the first institution to approach the insurance company, American International Group (AIG), to take over some of the risks associated with its CDO business. [29]Joseph Cassano, an AIG executive in the company’s now infamous financial products unit, recounted:

“J.P. Morgan came to us, who were somebody we worked with a great deal, and asked us to participate in some of what were the precursors to what became the CDO market.”

In assuming the risk of banks’ CDO business, AIG had the advantage that it did not have the same capital requirements as banks and were lightly supervised by officials who had little expertise in financial innovation. [30] Under Cassano, by 2008 AIG’s holdings in “super-senior” CDO’s had grown to $560 billion. Although these securities originally were considered very low risk, AIG had to write them down by $43 billion due to the dramatic downturn in the US housing market.[31] AIG was in danger of default, so the US government stepped in with an $85 billion bailout that subsequently increased to $255 billion in commitments to provide loans and purchase AIG’s toxic assets. [32]

Too big to fail

JP Morgan's strategy of growth, lead them to become a "too big to fail" bank, requiring government support during the financial crisis. In 2004, the bank agreed to buy Bank One, creating a $1.1 trillion bank holding company.[33] JP Morgan Chase acquired Bear Stearns on March 18, 2008, for $2 per share. [34] Six days later, the deal was revised upward to $10 a share, after Bear Sterns shareholders objected to the initial pricing.[35] On September 25, 2008, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) closed Washington Mutual. The bank was purchased by JPMorgan Chase for $1.9 billion. [36] Washington Mutual shareholders lost all of their equity.

2008 TARP Bailout

Capital Purchase "Healthy Bank" Program (2008)

On October 28, 2008 the Treasury Department started the Capital Purchase Program. JP Morgan was among the eight large U.S. banks to receive the Treasury Department's initial round of capital investments and received $25 billion of Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds. [37]

Impact of 2008 financial crisis on JP Morgan Chase

Fortunately for the bank, JP Morgan fell behind its competition in the hugely lucrative, but ultimately disastrous, business of selling subprime mortgage securities. Analysts within JP Morgan in the 1980’s identified key problems in applying financial innovation to the mortgage market. For example, unlike corporate loans, there was no long term data for the housing market allowing financial institutions to reliably quantify the risk associated with bundled mortgage securities. In addition, JP Morgan could not figure out what to do with the so called “super senior” portion of packaged mortgage securities, which were a problem if retained on a bank’s books; yet hard to off load. JP Morgan staff wondered how banks like Citigroup managed to deal with this fundamental flaw in the mortgage securitization market. [38]

As it turns out, other banks were largely ignoring the problem. Robert Rubin, Secretary Treasurer and senior advisor to Citigroup in the time leading to the crisis, acknowledged to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), that Citigroup “suffered distinctively high losses” with its super-senior securities and had exposed itself to a $43 billion risk. He blamed the ratings agencies that had given the securities AAA ratings. He also said that there were “almost no financial models” which could have predicted the massive decline in the U.S. housing market. However, JP Morgan analysts had correctly identified the problems with quantifying risks in the mortgage security market.[39] When he became CEO of JP Morgan in 2006, Jamie Dimon set the goal of diversifying its trading department into mortgage-backed securities, an area where his competitors were reaping huge profits. In his former position as bank president, he had:

“already revamped J.P. Morgan's retail-branch system to encourage greater selling of mortgages, credit cards, and other products.” JPMorgan Chase hired mortgage traders from other Wall Street firms to beef up this area of its operations. In a 2007 article titled “JP Morgan quietly climbs subprime ladder”, Reuters reported that the number of subprime mortgages that JP Morgan Chase had originated jumped by 11% in first quarter of the year. [40]

The online journal ProPublica noted, that while the bank was originally cautious about getting involved in sub-prime mortgage securities:

“by mid-2006, JP Morgan joined the herd. It hired bankers to expand its CDO team and got to work.”

JP Morga worked on a deal with Magnetar, a hedge fund that specialized in betting against the US mortgage market. Magnetar bought the riskiest mortgage securities and hedged against them, reaping huge profits with the sharp housing downturn. JP Morgan created a CDO with an initial stake from Magnetar and turned it into a $1.1 billion investment, sold internationally to 17 institutional investors. This JPMorgan/ Magnetar deal was struck in 2007 after the housing market had already started to decline. Investors, including a Lutheran non-profit organization, saw 100% losses only eight months later. ProPublic reported:

“According to marketing material and prospectuses, the banks didn't disclose to CDO investors the role Magnetar played.”

By finding markets for risky assets, in spite of indications that there were problems in the housing market, Magnetar, JPMorgan Chase and other financial institutions enabled the housing crisis to grow into a full-blown financial crisis. [41] CEO Jamie Dimon acknowledged in his 2009 letter to shareholders that JP Morgan had made its own mistakes during the lead-up to the crisis:

“Our two largest mistakes were making too many leveraged loans and lowering our mortgage underwriting standards. While our mortgage underwriting was considerably better than many others’, we did underwrite some high loan-to-value mortgages based on stated, not verified, income.” [42]

However, he claimed that despite his bank’s CDO deal with Magnetar, “there also are many mistakes that we did not make, among them... collateralized debt obligations...” [43]

JP Morgan’s profits fell from $15.4 billion in 2007 to $5.6 billion in 2008. [44] However, it did well in comparison with its competitors. An article in Fortune magazine in September 2008 reported:

“Before the crisis J.P. Morgan was a middle-of-the-pack performer; today it leads in nearly every category, starting with its stock.” [45]

The company’s investment banking division was called “king of the downturn” for the success it had in 2009. [46] JP Morgan paid back the $25 billion it received in TARP funds in June, 2009. In his 2009 annual letter to shareholders, CEO Jamie Dimon wrote that the firm did not need these funds, but did so because

“we believed we were doing the right thing to help the country and the economy.”

He expressed surprise at the public anger the bailout had prompted. He also portrayed JP Morgan’s purchase of Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual as actions that contributed to “stabilization and recovery.” [47] Dimon has been questioned, however, on the deal JP Morgan struck with the New York Fed over Bear Stearns. In order for JP Morgan to agree to buy the brokerage, the New York Fed paid $28.8 billion for Bear Stearns securities that since have fallen dramatically in value. In his testimony to Congress on the Bear Stearns deal, he stated:

“It would have been irresponsible for us to take on the full risk of all those assets at the time.” [48]

Other controversies

Worldcom lawsuit

In 2005, JP Morgan paid $2 billion to investors who had sued the company for having sold them $5.1 billon WorldCom bonds when the bank should have know WorldCom’s books were fraudulent. A scheduled trial against the bank might have resulted in an even higher payout. WorldCom, the second largest telecommunications company in the US at the end of the 1990’s, understated its expenditures for 2001 and 2002. Its Chairman, Bernie Ebbers, was convicted and jailed for securities fraud. CEO Jamie Dimon, who was president at the time, opposed an early settlement:

"This guilt by association will eventually have to end. It is not fair to say, `You are large, you know crooked parties, you did business with them, you are guilty.' It is not sufficient. It will destroy this country if we don't eventually fix some of that.” [49]

Enron lawsuit

JP Morgan Chase paid $2.2 billion in 2005 to settle a lawsuit by investors who claimed the bank had helped the energy firm Enron commit fraud. In 2003, the bank had paid a $135 million fine imposed on it by the SEC when the SEC concluded that JP Morgan Chase had helped Enron to mislead its investors. [50]

Jefferson County SEC investigation

In November 2009, JP Morgan made a $772 million settlement in a case brought against it by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and related to the bank’s municipal derivatives business. According to a SEC news release:

“The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. and two of its former managing directors for their roles in an unlawful payment scheme that enabled them to win business involving municipal bond offerings and swap agreement transactions with Jefferson County, Ala.”[51]

Without admitting responsibility, JP Morgan paid a $25 million penalty, $50 million to Jefferson County, and waived $647 million in fees the county was supposed to pay to terminate the contracts. Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement, summed up the case:

"The transactions were complex but the scheme was simple. Senior J.P. Morgan bankers made unlawful payments to win business and earn fees.” [52]

Jefferson County had been convinced by JP Morgan to enter into a swap deal to hedge its borrowing costs on a needed sewer project. However, the deal proved financially disastrous for the County. According to the New York Times:

“The interest-rate swaps were intended to provide a hedge in case interest rates rose. But interest rates fell sharply, making the hedge worthless to the county, despite all the high costs attached to it.” [53]

Opposition to credit card & derivative trading reforms

CEO Jamie Dimon criticized the Obama Administration in September 2009 for its proposed financial regulatory reforms. According to the Financial Times:

“He singled out the credit card provisions, which from February will constrain lenders’ ability to raise rates for risky borrowers, and rules that propose to move most derivatives trading on to exchanges as two contentious areas. The tough stance by JP Morgan reflects Wall Street’s new-found confidence in lobbying regulators and the government. After keeping a low profile during the crisis, many of the banks that repaid the bail-out funds are becoming more aggressive in Washington.” [54]

Opposition to compensation limits

When Jamie Dimon became president of JP Morgan Chase in 2004, he convened a meeting to criticize bank executives for “letting pay get totally out of hand.” He announced he would cut pay packages by 20 to 50% over two years. [55]

However, in his 2009 letter to shareholders, he argued against pay restrictions:

“People have responsibilities to themselves and to their families. They also have a deep sense of ‘compensation justice,’ which means they often are upset when they feel they are not fairly compensated against peers both within and outside the company. There are markets for talent, just like products, and a company must pay a reasonable price to compete.” [56]

Opposition to caps on bank size

In relation to banking regulation reform, Dimon warned in his 2009 annual letter against over regulation and writing the rules of banking “out of anger or populism”. According to Dimon "size should not be demonized". If the size of U.S. banks were to be capped companies would take their business to foreign banks. In an April of 2010 Huffington Post article by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor and co-author of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown, [57] Simon Johnson, calls Jamie Dimon "The Most Dangerous Man In America:

“There is simply no evidence - and I mean absolutely none - that society gains from banks having a balance sheet larger than $100 billion. (JP Morgan Chase is roughly a $2 trillion bank, on its way to $3 trillion.)” [58]

Pharmaceutical interests

The Rockefeller empire, in tandem with Chase Manhattan Bank (now JP Morgan Chase) owns over half of the pharmaceutical interests in the U.S. It is the largest drug manufacturing combine in the world. Since WWII, the pharmaceutical industry has steadily netted increasing profits to become the world's second largest manufacturing industry; [59], [60] after the arms industry. See also Rockefeller Foundation.

Coal issues (subsection)

JP Morgan Chase is a major financier of new coal plant construction. The bank is also a major financier of coal mines, including environmentally destructive mountaintop removal (MTR) practices. See also JP Morgan Chase coal issues.

General Background

The company is involved in an extensive range of financial services. These include investment and retail banking, credit cards and asset management. JP Morgan has operations in more than 50 countries.[61] The bank goes under the titles of JP Morgan Chase, JP Morgan and Chase.[62] Legacy names are J.P. Morgan, Chase Manhattan, Chemical Bank, Manufacturers Hanover, Bank One, First Chicago and National Bank of Detroit. [63]

Acquisitions & mergers

JP Morgan's extensive series mergers and acquisitions include the merger with Chase Manhattan in 2000; the merger with Bank One in 2004; the purchase of Bear Stearns in 2008 and the purchase of Washington Mutual in 2008. JP Morgan staff originally developed many of financial innovations which ultimately contributed to the 2008 financial crisis. [64] However, the bank emerged relatively unscathed. In fact, it had the second largest bank assets in the U.S. in 2010.[65]

Principal subsidiaries

  • Chase Manhattan Bank
  • Chase Manhattan Bank USA, National Association
  • Chase Securities, Inc.
  • JP Morgan Securities, Inc.
  • Morgan Guaranty Trust Company of New York

Top shareholders

Transfer agent

Mellon Investor Services LLC
Overpeck Center
85 Challenger Road
Ridgefield Park, New Jersey 07660-2108

Web address:

Political contributions

For the 2012 election cycle, campaign contribution totaled $5,272,185.[67] Between 1990 and 2013, JP Morgan spent $36,565,318 on campaign contributions.[68]

Geoffrey T. Boisi, Ex-Vice Chair of JP Morgan, was a Bush Ranger having raised at least $200,000 for Bush in the 2004 presidential election.[69]

Top 10 2012 Election Cycle Campaign Contributions

Recipient[67] Total From Indivs From Orgs
1. Mitt Romney $835,596 $835,596 $0
2. Republican National Committee $498,174 $483,174 $15,000
3. Barack Obama $306,319 $306,319 $0
4. DNC Services Corp $266,088 $266,088 $0
5. National Republican Senatorial Committee $185,425 $155,425 $30,000
6. National Republican Congressional Committee $144,575 $114,575 $30,000
7. Priorities USA Action $101,450 $101,450 $0
8. Mark Warner $81,650 $81,650 $0
9. Scott Brown $67,200 $57,200 $10,000
10. Mitch McConnell $61,500 $55,500 $6,000


The company spent $5,460,000 on lobbying in 2013. It used the lobbying firms K&L Gates, McBee Strategic Consulting, Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock, Walter Group, Monument Policy Group, Nappi & Hoppe, Lawrence J Romans & Associates, Jones Walker LLP, LTD Group, Glover Park Group, Triangle Associates, and Clark, Lytle et al.[70]

Top 2013 Lobbying Recipients

  1. JPMorgan Chase & Co - $5,340,000
  2. K&L Gates - $240,000
  3. McBee Strategic Consulting - $240,000
  4. Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock - $240,000
  5. Walter Group - $120,000[70]

Between 1999 and 2013, JP Morgan spent $82,387,899 on lobbying.[68]


Board of Directors

As of January 2014:[71]

  • Linda B. Bammann - former Deputy Head of Risk Management at JPMorgan Chase, former Chief Risk Management Officer at Bank One Corporation, former Managing Director at UBS Warburg LLC, and former Director of The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac)
  • James A. Bell - former Executive Vice President, The Boeing Company (Director since 2011, JPMorgan Chase)
  • Crandall C. Bowles - Chairman, Springs Industries, Inc. (Director since 2006, JPMorgan Chase)
  • Stephen B. Burke - President, Comcast Cable Communications, Inc. (Director since 2003, JPMorgan Chase or predecessor institution)
  • James S. Crown - President, Henry Crown & Company (Director since 1991, JPMorgan Chase or predecessor institution)
  • James Dimon - Chairman of the Board & CEO (Director since 2000, JPMorgan Chase or predecessor institution)
  • Timothy P. Flynn - reitred Chairman, KPMG (Director since 2012, JPMorgan Chase)
  • Laban P. Jackson, Jr. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Clear Creek Properties, Inc. (Director since 1993, JPMorgan Chase or predecessor institution)
  • Michael A. Neal - former Vice Chairman of General Electric Company
  • Lee R. Raymond - Lead Independent Director (retired Chairman & CEO, Exxon Mobil Corporation) (Director since 1987, JPMorgan Chase or predecessor institution)
  • William C. Weldon - Chairman, CEO, Johnson & Johnson (Director since 2005, JPMorgan Chase)

Past board members include:[72][73]

Executive Management

As of January 2014:[74]

  • Jamie Dimon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

  • Ashley Bacon, Chief Risk Officer
  • Michael J. Cavanagh, Corporate & Investment Bank Co-CEO
  • Stephen M. Cutler, General Counsel

  • John L. Donnelly, Head of Human Resources

  • Mary Callahan Erdoes, Asset Management CEO

  • Marianne Lake, Chief Financial Officer

  • Douglas B. Petno, Commercial Banking CEO

  • Daniel E. Pinto, Corporate & Investment Bank Co-CEO

  • Gordon A. Smith, Consumer & Community Banking CEO
  • Matthew E. Zames, Co-Chief Operating Officer

Former Executives

As of February 2013:[75]

  • Frank J. Bisignano, Co-Chief Operating Officer

  • John J. Hogan, Chief Risk Officer

Key Executives and 2012 Compensation

  • James Dimon - Chairman & CEO, $18.7 million[76]
  • Daniel E. Pinto - Corporate & Investment Bank Co-CEO
, $17 million[77]
  • Matthew E. Zames - Co-Chief Operating Officer, $16.6 million[78]
  • Mary Callahan Erdoes - Asset Management CEO
, $14.7 million[79]

International Advisory Council (as of Dec 2011)

Accessed October 2013: [80]

Earnings & bonuses

According to a report by the Attorney General of New York State JP Morgan Chase paid $8.693 billion in bonuses to executives and employees[81] while earning only $5.6 billion after being a recipient of TARP bailout funds of $25 billion.

2008 breakdown from Attorney General's report

  • Top four recipients received a combined $74.80 million.
  • The next four received: $49.18 million.
  • The next six received: $60.96 million.
  • Number of individuals that received more than $10 million: 10
  • Number that received more than $8 million: 29
  • Number that received more than $5 million: 84
  • Number that received more than $4 million: 130
  • Number that received more than $3 million: More than 200
  • Number that received at least $1 million: 1,626 [82]


270 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Phone: 212-270-6000
Fax: 212-270-1648

Web address:

Articles and Resources

SourceWatch Articles

Featured SourceWatch Articles on Fix the Debt

External articles

External resources



  1. JP Morgan Chase, "History of Our Firm", organizational website, accessed February 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Dean Starkman and Jim Puzzanghera, "Five banks plead guilty to market manipulation, fined $5.7 billion," L. A. Times, May 20, 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Michael Corkery and Ben Protess, "Rigging of Foreign Exchange Market Makes Felons of Top Banks," The New York Times, May 20, 2015.
  4. Stephanie Ruhle, Bradley Keoun & Mary Childs, "JPMorgan Trader’s Positions Said to Distort Credit Indexes", Bloomberg, April 6, 2012
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 Mary Bottari, "JP Morgan Gets an Award for London Whale Fiasco, Will Schneiderman Harpoon the Corruption?", PRWatch, March 26, 2013
  6. 6.0 6.1 Anton Troianovski, "For J.P. Morgan, Lemons to Lemonade", Wall Street Journal, March 22, 2013
  7. Gillian Tett Fool's Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan Was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Catastrophe, Free Press, May 2009, ISBN 141659857X, ISBN 978-1416598572
  8. Gillian Tett, Fool’s Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Financial Catastrophe, 2009, p. 3.
  9. Gillian Tett, Fool’s Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Financial Catastrophe, 2009, pps. 46, 48 and 49.
  10. Gillian Tett, Fool’s Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Financial Catastrophe, 2009, p. 56.
  11. Gillian Tett, Fool’s Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Financial Catastrophe, 2009, p. 246.
  12. “JP Morgan’s London head slams ‘greed’ of bankers”, London Evening Standard, September 28, 2009
  13. Credit Default Swaps, New York Times, May 2010
  14. Frank Partnoy, F.I.A.S.C.O – Blood in the Water on Wall Street, 2009, pps. 267-268.
  15. Ron Chernow, The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance, 2001, p. 375.
  16. Ron Chernow, The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance, 2001, p. xii.
  17. Ron Chernow, The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance, 2001, pps. 388, 390, 470, 501, 716.
  18. Ron Chernow, The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance, 2001, p. 716.
  19. “Frontline: Interview with Charles Geisst”, PBS, February 5, 2003.
  20. “Frontline: Interview with Charles Geisst”, PBS, February 5, 2003.
  21. “JPMorgan Net Rises 55% on Improved Outlook for Economy, Housing”, Bloomberg News, April 14, 2010
  22. Robert Weissman, Harry Rosenfeld, “Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America,” Wall Street Watch, March 2009, p. 17.
  23. Gillian Tett, Fool’s Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Financial Catastrophe, 2009, pps. 28 and 32.
  24. Gillian Tett, Fool’s Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Financial Catastrophe, 2009, p. 40.
  25. Mark Brickell, Managing Director “Statement Submitted on Behalf of J.P. Morgan & Co. Incorporated to the Committee on Banking and Financial Services, United States House of Representatives”, J.P. Morgan Securities Inc., July 17, 2008.
  26. “The Warning – Interview with Brooksley Born”, PBS, Frontline, October 20, 2009.
  27. Mark Brickell, Managing Director, J.P. Morgan Securities Inc., “Statement Submitted on Behalf of J.P. Morgan & Co. Incorporated to the Committee on Banking and Financial Services, United States House of Representatives”, July 17, 2008.
  28. Alan Greenspan Testimony to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, October 23, 2008.
  29. Gretchen Morgenson, “Behind Insurer’s Crisis, Blind Eye to a Web of Risk”, New York Times, September 27, 2008.
  30. Gillian Tett, Fool’s Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Financial Catastrophe, 2009, pps. 62, 63.
  31. Gillian Tett, Fool’s Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Financial Catastrophe, 2009, p. 239.
  32. “Total Wall Street Bailout Cost”, Real Economy Project, accessed April 8, 2010.
  33. Sold Out - How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America , Consumer Education Foundation, March, 2009, accessed October 11, 2009.
  34. Robin Sidel, Dennis K. Berman, Kate Kelley, J.P. Morgan Buys Bear in Fire Sale, As Fed Widens Credit to Avert Crisis,Wall Street Journal, March 17, 2008
  35. David Cho, Neil Irwin J.P. Morgan Raises Its Offer for Bear Stearns, Washington Post, March 24, 2008
  36. JPMorgan Buys Failed WaMu Assets for $1.9 Billion, CNBC, September 25, 2008
  37. Where is the Money? Eye on the Bailout. Capital Purchase Program: The `Healthy Bank` Program, ProPublica, accessed January 2011
  38. Gillian Tett, Fool’s Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Financial Catastrophe, 2009, pps. 65 , 126.
  39. Gillian Tett, Fool’s Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Financial Catastrophe, 2009, p. 140.
  40. “JP Morgan quietly climbs subprime ladder”, Reuters, May 31, 2007.
  41. Jesse Eisinger, Jake Bernstein “The Magnetar Trade: How One Hedge Fund Helped Keep the Bubble Going”, ProPublic, April 9, 2010.
  42. Jamie Dimon “Letter to shareholders”, JP Morgan Chase Annual Report 2009.
  43. Jamie Dimon “Letter to shareholders”, JP Morgan Chase Annual Report 2009.
  44. JP Morgan Chase Annual Report and Proxy Statements, 2007, 2008
  45. “Jamie Dimon's Swat Team”, Fortune Magazine, September 2, 2008.
  46. “Lead Vanishes for King of the Downturn”, New York Times, April 1, 2010.
  47. Jamie Dimon “Letter to shareholders”, JP Morgan Chase Annual Report 2009.
  48. “Fed’s Bear Stearns portfolio value falls”, Financial Times, February 15, 2010.
  49. “JP Morgan to Pay $2 Bln to Settle WorldCom Fraud Suit”, Bloomberg News, March 15, 2005
  50. “JP Morgan pays $2bn in Enron case”, BBC, June 15, 2005.
  51. “J.P. Morgan Settles SEC Charges in Jefferson County, Ala. Illegal Payments Scheme", Securities and Exchange Commission, November 4, 2009
  52. “J.P. Morgan Settles SEC Charges in Jefferson County, Ala. Illegal Payments Scheme",SEC, November 4, 2009.
  53. “J.P. Morgan Settles Alabama Bribery Case”, New York Times, November 4, 2009
  54. JP Morgan chief hits at credit card rules, Financial Times, July 16, 2009
  55. “In This Corner! The Contender”, Fortune Magazine, March 29, 2006
  56. Jamie Dimon “Letter to shareholders”, JP Morgan Chase Annual Report, 2009.
  57. Simon Johnson, James Kwak 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown, Pantheon, March 2010, ISBN 0307379051, ISBN 978-0307379054
  58. Simon Johnson, Jamie Dimon: The Most Dangerous Man In America, Huffington Post, April 3, 2010.
  59. Ivan Fraser, Mark Beeston The Pharmaceutical Racket,, accessed April 2010
  60. Hans Reusch Publicity The Truth About the Rockefeller Drug Empire: The Drug Story, CIVIS Foundation Report number 15, Fall-Winter 1993
  61. Profile, Hoovers, accessed July 2007.
  62. About page, JP Morgan Chase, accessed August 2007
  63. History, JP Morgan Chase, accessed August 2007
  64. Gillian Tett Fool's Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan Was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Catastrophe, Free Press, May 2009, ISBN 141659857X, ISBN 978-1416598572
  65. “JPMorgan Net Rises 55% on Improved Outlook for Economy, Housing”, Bloomberg News, April 14, 2010
  66. JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM), UK finance, accessed September 25, 2008.
  67. 67.0 67.1 Center for Responsive Politics, Heavy Hitter: JP Morgan Chase & Co: Summary: 2012, political influence database, accessed January 31, 2014.
  68. 68.0 68.1 Center for Responsive Politics, Heavy Hitter: JP Morgan Chase & Co: Summary, political influence database, accessed January 31, 2014.
  69. Pioneers and Rangers, Texans for Public Justice, accessed August 2007.
  70. 70.0 70.1 Center for Responsive Politics, Influence & Lobbying: JP Morgan Chase & Co, lobbying database, accessed January 31, 2014.
  71. JPMorgan Chase, Members of the Board, organizational website, accessed January 2014.
  72. Members of the Board, accessed October 2009.
  73. JPMorgan Chase, "Members of the Board", organizational website, accessed February 2013.
  74. JPMorgan Chase, "Operating Committee", organizational website, accessed January 31, 2014.
  75. JPMorgan Chase, "Operating Committee", organizational website, accessed February 2013
  76. James Dimon, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, accessed January 31, 2014.
  77. Daniel E. Pinto, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, accessed January 31, 2014.
  78. Matthew E. Zames, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, accessed January 31, 2014.
  79. Mary Callahan Erdoes, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, accessed January 31, 2014.
  80. JPMorgan Chase International Advisory Council, organizational web page, accessed October 26, 2013.
  81. Andrew M. Cuomo, No Rhyme or Reason, report by the Attorney General of New York, retreived Oct 4, 2009.
  82. Michael Corkery, J.P. Morgan Chase: The Cuomo Report’s Bonus Breakdown, Deal Journal, Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2009. Retrieved Oct 6, 2009.