New Orleans JP Morgan Chase finally agreed to pay a $13 billion fine to compensate for a small part of its mortgage mischief. Experts doing the math and calculating the formula for comparable settlements at 2% of the damage done and then estimating the potential level of bad mortgages sold, believe that Chase might have gotten off lightly at $13 big ones regardless of whether or not this is a current record breaking penalty. Add that to the fact that many also estimate that $7 billion, more than half the fines, can be written off their taxes, stiffing the American people a second time, and you would think that at least for a couple of days they would dial down their notorious arrogance and at least pretend to be contrite.
Not a chance!
Instead, their general counsel was on a well reported panel discussion with government regulators and complained about the size of the fine he had just negotiated. He suggested there needed to be a task force to look into where would this tendency to punish corporations at this level ever stop. Have you got this? They admitted to criminal behavior, but he was not concerned about whether they would get their act together, but whether the government would stop telling them to get straight! In the wake of conceding guilt for Chase this fool wanted to act like the bank was the victim of government persecution rather than remembering that this involved taking houses away from hundreds of thousands and stealing money from their own investors.
This same Chase general counsel was himself the former chief of enforcement of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) and in that capacity had made Chase during his time pay up $115 million for some chicanery. It’s a shame for the American people that he didn’t get his foot caught in that revolving door, rather than his brain and common sense, which he certainly seems to have left somewhere else along the way. Not to digress but a recent New Yorker piece about Mary White, the new head of the SEC, makes it look like it’s nothing but play pretend over there and not likely to change much with the responsibilities of regulation under Dodd-Frank likely to be collateral damage and the enforcement likely to be mostly for show.
I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, but we sure as heck should be concerned.
If this is the way you shake hands, do a deal, and learn nothing, then we can only expect more tragedy and criminality from JPMorgan Chase with a culture that seem insidious from top to bottom.