If JPMorgan lost on trades, who won?

A man walks by a sign outside of the JPMorgan Chase headquarters on May 14, 2012 in New York City.

Kai Ryssdal: JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon was in the un-wanted spotlight once again today at a big investor conference in New York. Try though he might, Dimon still can't get past questions about the bank's $3 billion and counting trading loss. He did say they're making progress reducing risk and will wrestle this problem down -- his words.

We've heard volumes about the potential losses JPMorgan. But what about the winners? Marketplace's Sally Herships reports.


Sally Herships: Let’s just get right down to it. Where did the money go?

James Angel: Clearly there were people on the other sides of the trades.

James Angel teaches finance at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. The people he’s referring run trading desks at rival banks, hedge funds and even other units inside JPMorgan. According to the New York Times, a mutual fund run out of a different part of the bank bet against the head office.

Angel: So it turns out that some of JPMorgan’s own customers were making money off of JPMorgan’s losses.

The whole market for complex financial products is murky. It’s hard to know which hedge funds were involved because they’re private and don’t have to share their results.

But one hedge fund did crack the door today. BlueCrest Capital Management said it took a small position against JPMorgan and stood to make money. But he didn’t say how much.

Ken Thomas is an independent bank analyst and economist in Miami. He says the final results aren’t known yet but it doesn’t look good for JPMorgan.

Ken Thomas: This was the strongest of the strong, this was the biggest of the big.

Thomas says the hedge funds know they  have an advantage.

Thomas: And many of them are now actually doing better than they did before because Chase is in the uncomfortable position of having to unload this and because everyone knows it, it’s going to cost them more to get out of it.

Remember, it’s not yet clear how bad JPMorgan’s losses are, many are still just on paper. Jamie Dimon says by the end of the year he hopes there’ll be no reason to even ask about this trading mishap.

In New York, I’m Sally Herships for Marketplace.

About the author

Sally Herships is a regular contributor to Marketplace.

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