Banking competitors are trying to lure away top talent at JP Morgan by highlighting the recent prop trading losses are likely to affect bonues and Jamie Dimon isn’t being honest about how bad the loss will be. On July 13th the banking giant will announce 2nd quarter earnings and a real-time number is expected on how many billions net income gets wacked with because the London whale trade has been wound down. Last week Mark DeCambre at the New York Post wrote his JPM sources expect the loss to be between $4-6 billion – JPM’s estimate in May was only $2bn. But I heard this week JPM managing directors are being told it’s more. To the tune of $9 billion – Ouch!
That could be two quarters worth of net income and since JPM staffers are paid in part on how the whole company earns that rumor about a yearend lack luster bonus is looking more like a reality. Not good if you are killing your quota this year and working in a group that has nothing to do with the wrong way derivative trade. So a few seasoned wealth managers I spoke with are weighing competitor offers and seriously thinking of jumping ship – even if that means they give up their not yet vest $JPM stock.
Of course JPM can use accounting tricks to make the trading loss look better on final quarterly income statements. I highlighted last month how litigation reserves can be added or taken away to move the net income number around when they need it. But considering the recent news heat they’ve gotten on how low the legal reserves already are for the size of the RMBS putback problem…they’d be pretty damn arrogant to try to play with that number in the face of their regulators. Of course if their other trading departments make good on another trading bet, like being short silver, that could help offset losses. But loosing $9 billion on a single trade strategy gone so very wrong will put a lot of pressure on the White House’s favorite banker and make the Senate look even more foolish for their fluffy congressional hearings on the failed trade. If a $9bn gross trading loss becomes reality then the 3 notch downgrade by Moody’s could slid even further which increases their cost of borrowing and well – that sucks for anyone contingent on a JPM paycheck.