Taking Stock: Berko not a fan of JPMorgan Chase business practices

Malcolm Berko: JPMorgan Chase member of ‘Wall Street mafia.'
Published: August 18, 2013
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Dear Mr. Berko: In April 2009, I bought 200 shares, at $32, of JPMorgan Chase, one of the biggest and most profitable banks in the United States. I've read your recommendations of other banks during the past few years, but you have never recommended JPMorgan Chase. It almost seems to be a no-brainer, so I wonder why you have never written about this classy blue-chip American institution.

BR, Vancouver, Wash.

Dear BR: JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM-$54.70) is a bank run by a coterie of savage pimps, dancing pagans, financial rapists and a corrupt, depraved, libertine management team that flaunts its disdain for American consumers. It has 254,000 employees and more than $1 trillion in cash and has pocketed more politicians than the Pentagon has colonels. Morgan is run by the voluble and hugely overpaid James “Jamie” Dimon, a CEO without scruples. Jamie is one of the few CEOs who can thread a needle while wearing mittens and riding a camel at full gallop in a snowstorm at night. I fear people with that kind of talent because they think they are perfect and have a God complex. So I've never recommended Morgan, because management's business ethics are anathema to me, and they should be to you. Recommending Morgan would imply that I approve of the manner in which management comports its business activities.

Some believe that the invisible hands of the Rothschilds, the Masons and the Illuminati were wild tales of world conspiracy theorists. I thought so, too, until the massive trillion-dollar Libor scandal broke last year and Morgan was named a prominent participant. Certainly, Jamie had a few of his digits on those strings. The ensuing legal costs will run into the billions, and I can't imagine what the financial penalties will be. Jamie is an amazingly charming, disarming and multitalented man. He was also merrily at the helm when Morgan was found guilty two years ago by the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice of manipulating municipal bond prices and rigging bids that cost municipalities and investors billions of dollars. Morgan paid multiple millions for that intentional faux pas.

And Jamie was joyfully steering Morgan last year when his London Whale lost more than $6 billion of depositors' money while placing (supposedly unauthorized) trades in various securities. And Jamie was blithely captaining the ship when Morgan duped investors into buying troubled mortgages that later imploded. The government contends that Morgan purposefully churned out mortgage-backed securities that couldn't meet normal underwriting standards. The ensuing criminal and civil charges allege that Morgan sold securities that caused “roughly $22.5 billion in losses for investors.” And Jamie was gleefully charting the course last April when the authorities accused Morgan, a prominent player in the $595 trillion (that's trillion with a “t”) derivatives market, of engineering a scheme to fix prices of interest rate swaps. The consequences are mind-boggling. And on Jamie's insouciant watch several years ago, Morgan was ripping off American consumers by actively rigging the aluminum, copper and coffee markets. Morgan artificially inflated prices by surreptitiously controlling the supply and generated billions of dollars in profits.

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