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All eyes will be on Jamie Dimon’s hearing in Washington in front of the Senate Banking Committee. The JP Morgan CEO is expected to get grilled by congressman on the matter of the bank’s surprise $2 billion trading loss.Art Cashin, UBS Financial Services’ director of floor operations, expects a lot of political theatre.
In fact, he argues that the more important thing to watch today is Europe via German bond yields.
But if you’re following the JP Morgan matter, be careful about what people tell you about.
Specifically, a lot of critics will throw around the number $71 trillion, which is the notional value of the derivatives that JP Morgan is exposed to. But that’s an incomplete, misleading number since most of that exposure is offset by hedges.
From this morning’s Cashin’s Comments:
Congress, JPMorgan And The Financials – Today, Jamie Dimon will be called to Capitol Hill, purportedly to answer questions on a hedge trade that might have gone sour to the tune of $2 billion, or more. Hearings of this type tend to be a typically American political minuet. Each of the elected officials will be offered a set time (e.g. 10 minutes) in which to ask questions. After checking to be sure that the cameras are rolling, each will use up probably seven of those minutes making a statement (just to set up the question we are sure). Some cynics think a primary goal is sometimes to set your name in a headline for the next day. Please, please these are elected representatives of the people.
Folks in the financials hope the questioning sticks to the announced topic. Traders fear that some of the folks may use the opportunity to pillory Wall Street and the financials.
JPM has a large notional exposure to derivatives. The firm claims that it only looks large but that most of it is “paired off”. (Think – half buyers and half sellers). Further, they claim these are heavily very low risk interest rate derivatives.
But bloggers and some political types use the sheer dollar volume of the notional values. They note that the notional value of derivatives pointed out in the 10K report is a whopping $71 trillion. Then they giddily point out that $71 trillion is larger than the GDP of the entire United States – in fact about five times larger. Then they deliver the punch line, noting that $71 trillion is larger than the GDP for the entire globe. That’s usually followed by table pounding about how reckless and dangerous Wall Street is. Let’s hope they stick to the hedge trade as advertised.
Consensus – Dimon testimony will dominate TV screens but Europe is still the key. Watch those German Bunds and stay very nimble.