For John, BLUF: A lot of things in life aren't as they appear in the press. Nothing to see here; just move along.
The Wall Street Journal took an unfavorable view of the tentative settlement between the US Government and the banking giant, J P Morgan Chase. The tentative settlement was for $13 billion, which has been noted as being half the annual profits of J P Morgan Chase.
Frankly, profits of $26 billion just seem excessive on the surface. That is like $82 per man, woman and child living in these United States. I don't want to give them that much money out of my household income.
Then there is this view from a comment in the article from the International Edition of the New York Times♠ (second link above). The Commenter is Mr Allen Braun, of Upstate NY:
Criminal investigations need to be pursued to the end and charges laid against people. Those people, if found guilty, need to be imprisoned, personally fined and barred from the industry.I see the commenter's point. While I hate putting folks in prison, due to the cost to me as a taxpayer and the fact that they will be associating with known criminals and thus possibly corrupting their morals, sometimes something more than a fine is of value. However, the long range question is how do we return them to society as tax paying citizens?
Fines, even so steep, are just a cost of doing business.
But, before we start cheering for Attorney General Eric Holder and all the good guys at the Department of Justice, we need to at least consider the viewpoint represented by The Wall Street Journal. Here is the lede to the article, "The Morgan Shakedown":
The tentative $13 billion settlement that the Justice Department appears to be extracting from J.P. Morgan Chase needs to be understood as a watershed moment in American capitalism. Federal law enforcers are confiscating roughly half of a company's annual earnings for no other reason than because they can and because they want to appease their left-wing populist allies.That is pretty over-the-top writing. But, then there is this:
The bulk of the settlement is related to mortgage-backed securities issued before the 2008 financial panic. But those securities weren't simply a Morgan product. They were largely issued by Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual, both of which the federal government asked J.P. Morgan to take over to help ease the crisis.The rest is at the link, with all the profit making Wall Street Journal advertising.
So first the feds asked the bank to do the country a favor without giving it a chance for proper due diligence. The Treasury needed quick decisions, and Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon made them in good faith. But five years later the feds are punishing the bank for having done them the favor. As Richard Parsons notes nearby, this is not going to make another CEO eager to help the Treasury in the next crisis. But more pointedly, where is the justice in such ex post facto punishment?
Then there's the fact that $4 billion of the settlement is earmarked to settle charges against the bank by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We are supposed to believe that the bank misled the two mortgage giants about the quality of the mortgage securities they were issuing. But everyone knows that Fan and Fred had as their explicit policy the purchase of securities for liar loans and subprime mortgages to further their affordable-housing goals. Those goals went far to create the crisis, but now these wards of the state are portraying themselves as victims.
But, to go back to the above noted comment from Mr Allen Braun, of Upstate NY, perhaps we should be working on putting former Senator Chris Dodd and former Representative Barney Frank in goal for their roles in all of this.♥
Regards — Cliff
♠ That used to be The International Herald Tribune, up until this last Tuesday. I think it was a dumb rebranding move to change the name.
♥ No, not really. Just kidding. After all, they are legislators, solons, so to speak. On the other hand, ...