The new week kicked off with news that JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM)’s trading loss my widen even more thanks to the crumbling Europe situation. A second report has losses estimated up to $5 million.
In comments by one of the hedge funds that took the opposing side to some of JPMorgan’s questionable trades, Michael Platt, co- founder and chief executive officer of BlueCrest Capital Management LLP, made some gloomy predictions on Bloomberg Television’s “Inside Track” on Monday. He said, “They’re not out of those positions. If we end up with a catastrophe in Europe in the short run, they’re probably not positions that anyone would want to have.”
The Geneva-based BlueCrest manages $32 billion. Platt explained that a credit fund managed by his firm took a “small” position against JPMorgan after discovering “anomalies” in the pricing of certain credit derivatives. As prices corrected, BlueCrest would then make money.
JPMorgan is trying to stop the losses in its London-based chief investment office as other hedge funds take advantage of its money-losing positions; they are trading indexes related to credit-default swaps, according to Bloomberg.
On May 10, the firm announced its $2 billion loss but a few days later, it had been estimated to grow $1 billion in the quarter.
Platt added on Monday that he questioned whether Dimon’s explanation that the trades were from hedges on credit including corporate loans.
He said, “I don’t think they could be described in any way as a hedge. I think it’s a trading loss. They deliberately put the positions on. The London whale, who has subsequently been harpooned, put the positions on.”
Platt noted that Europe’s crisis could quickly advance if Greece leaves the euro–an option currently under discussion by politicians.
He said, “The order of events would be Greek exit, shock wave across Europe, massive stress in banks, Spain turns into the battleground for the euro, because of the stresses in their own banking system. Then we either get a very swift and strong European solution or we get a hugely disorderly meltdown in Europe.”
Loss to Hit $5 billion?
Meanwhile, in a separate story by The Wall Street Journal, the losses may even hit $5 billion. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon supposedly approved the strategy for the trades but he did not monitor their execution, according to unnamed sources. By failing to regulate the trades, animosity from executives who face greater oversight for their departments has grown.
Adding fuel to the fire, JPMorgan did not have a treasurer during the time of the trades, which was a five month period, was also reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Joseph Evangelisti, a JPM spokesman, wouldn’t comment on the $5 billion estimate.
Suspension of Share Repurchases
And in additional news on Monday, Dimon said at an investor conference that the firm would suspend its share repurchases in response to the trading losses but dividends would continue.
Earlier in the year, JPMorgan increased its quarterly dividend to $0.30 cents per share from $0.25 cents along with the announcement of a $15 billion buyback program.
Dimon said the the buyback program will be restarted but no date has been set.