Gretchen Morgenson has pretty much owned the banking crisis story from the start. Her book, Reckless Endangerment is required reading for anyone who wants to know what really happened in 2007-08. (Along with Michael Lewis’s The Big Short.) So listen up to what she has to report in today’s NYT:
After bailing out the nation’s banking system in 2008, taxpayers and investors have been assured that such a crisis will not happen again. The Dodd-Frank legislation was supposed to make our system safe from the kinds of reckless banking activities that brought the economy to its knees.
The Senate report disproves this premise with vigor.
Its pages of e-mails, testimony, telephone transcripts and analysis show that traders in the bank’s chief investment office hid money-losing derivatives positions, if only temporarily; that risk limits created by the bank to protect itself were exceeded routinely; that risk models were changed to minimize losses; that bank executives misled investors and the public; and that regulations are only as good as the regulators enforcing them.
Remember that this is a report examining JPMorgan Chase, the bank that enjoys the best reputation among its peers. One can only wonder: if JPMorgan Chase traders think nothing of misrepresenting the value of their trades to minimize losses, what are the financial world’s lesser players up to?
Unfortunately, that is not something investors are likely to learn until it is too late and a wrong-way bet blows up an institution’s balance sheet.
Read the whole thing, and understand we live in Bailout Nation.