May 16th, 2012
11:58 AM ET

FBI opens investigation into JPMorgan trade loss

FBI Director Robert Muller said the bureau has opened a preliminary investigation into a major JPMorgan Chase trading loss.

"All I can say is that we have opened a preliminary investigation," Robert Mueller said in response to questions at an FBI oversight hearing on Capitol Hill.

The company had made a surprise announce that it has suffered trading losses of $2 billion since the start of April.

The loss, while massive on the face of it, is expected to be easily absorbed by JPMorgan, which is the nation's largest bank by assets. Even this quarter, the bank is expected to turn a multi-billion dollar profit.

The group that suffered the losses is part of the bank's so-called corporate unit, and had been making trades designed to hedge against risk, which is a fancy way of saying it operates as a kind of insurance agency, reported. When a big bet is made, the office tries to find ways to mitigate the risk to the bank should the bet go south.

Over the past few months, the unit has staked out a very large position in insurance-like bets called credit default swaps, the same type of instrument that caused so much havoc in 2008.

CEO Jamie Dimon, who on Monday a $23 million compensation package approved, told analysts and reporters the losses were caused by "errors," "sloppiness" and "bad judgment."

In the wake of the financial crisis, critics have made the case that the biggest banks are still so large, so complex, and their desire for profits so great that they remain a systemic risk to the global financial system.

Dimon, in full damage control mode, was forced to hold a hastily-arranged conference call to announce the loss, and followed that with an appearance on Meet the Press, where he admitted the company had made a mistake.

"This is a terrible mistake," Dimon said. "In this job, you hope they're small and few and far between. This one is far too big."

Read more on JPMorgan: How JPMorgan made its $2B blunder Betting against JPMorgan

Fortune: The hedge funds that are profiting off JPMorgan's bad trade

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Filed under: Business • Economy • Finance
soundoff (154 Responses)
  1. Philip

    These stories of like JPMorgan/Chase and Bernie Madoff are mere distractions from the truth: The stock-market is a shell game and the federal reserve systems are one big giant ponzi scheme.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Philip

    It's not these petty crooks like JPMorgan/Chase and Bernie Madoff. It's the entire world's federal reserve system ran by one single foreign bank. (google 'Tower of Basil' to see it) You know. The Fed that President Obama won't allow US to audit.

    May 16, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Rally

    Nope. The Fed sets interest rates, not President Obama who has no say. As the housing bubble burst (again, as has been the custom for decades) US property values plummeted...people homes became worth less, much less. And so as your government had you focused on a 500 billion dollar economic stimulus package and bank bailouts, the Fed quietly printed 3 trillion dollars worth of new money, and used it to purchase artificially deflated price US property like the Harley Davidson Motorcyle corp. and the Crosswoods Mall in Norman,OK.
    80% of US Treasury Certificates (all based on the value of US property) are held by foreigners.As the world's economy tanked, foreigners had to sell their Treasury Cert's back at a loss just to stay afloat. The world's federal reserve systems all made a big money grab, and sent those funds to their main bank in Basil Switzerland, NOT to any nation where the worlds Feds conduct business. They take hard earned money and replace it with freshly printed "funny money" backed by words.

    May 16, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rally

    Really. Ask your banker about the worlds federal reserves all having the same home office bank. A foreign bank. Your banker knows but won't tell. But just for the fun of it, watch him/her hem and haw rather than answering. Bring a picture of this foreign bank to show your banker and watch him/her act surprised to learn of it. (google 'Tower of Basil' for the pics) Have fun! Married to a banker? Try this at home tonight!

    May 16, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. oh, please!!!!!!!!

    GWB wouldn't allow it, Clinton wouldn't allow it, GB wouldn't allow it, Reagun wouldn't allow it...stoo with the crao that Obama is the only one holding back the FR being audited, when NO PRESIDENT WOULD ALLOW IT!!!!!!!!!! It ain't up to him anyway.........stop slinging poo.

    May 16, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • krehator

      lol you love making stuff up to boost up your failed party....

      May 17, 2012 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
  6. krehator

    You can investigate all you want. If the consequences for wrong doing are not severe enough, or they can pass the expense off to the consumer, the law is impotent.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
  7. Cortanis

    2012 and noting has changed. Probably won't ether. That would mean that the world governments would have to intervene in the banking systems across the world. That wouldn't be taken lightly by the government "donators" to campaigns.

    May 17, 2012 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
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