Columns » Hightower

Chase's big gamble goes bad




Not to worry, says one of Wall Street's biggest bankers, because we know what we're doing. There's no need for fussy regulators to get in our way.

What they've been doing is turning their bank's investment division into a betting parlour, shoving billions of borrowed dollars into high-tech, speculative trades based on fantasy projections.

It worked ... at first. But then the bets went bad. And the investment division's staggering losses now endanger the whole bank.

Which, of course, is deemed "too big to fail," so we taxpayers are on the hook.

If this sounds like the same déjà voodoo of the still-reverberating 2007 Wall Street collapse — it is. Only it's 2012, and this high priest of high-finance hokum is Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the nation's biggest financial conglomerate.

He and his bank had been hailed as the epitome of Wall Street responsibility after the 2007 crash, if only because JPMorgan did not fail. Back then.

Indeed, with the elegant and erudite Dimon at the helm, this powerhouse was favored with government subsidies and was allowed to grow even bigger.

So Dimon and his high-tech gamblers were able to shoo off government regulators and plunge deeper into financial voodoo, resulting in a loss of at least $3 billion.

Yet, the ever-charming Dimon, who is Washington's favorite Wall Streeter, even has a seat on the federal regulatory body overseeing the giant banks. How cozy!

He's also been a leading lobbyist against sensible reforms in Congress to rein in mega-bank excesses, including the essential need to unhitch us common customers (and taxpayers) from Wall Street's gambling scams.

We must demand that Washington Republicans, Democrats, and tea-partiers alike stop coddling these self-serving too-big-too-fail banksters.

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Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit

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