Thursday, February 12, 2015

Et tu, WSJ?

A bank acts in the best interests of its clients. Which is news to a WSJ reporter named Jenny Strasburg;
Bank of America Corp. for years used its government-backed U.S. banking subsidiary to finance billions of dollars in controversial trades that helped hedge funds and other clients avoid taxes, according to internal documents and people familiar with the matter.
First, that's avoid (legal), not evade (illegal) taxes. Second,, Glass-Steagall's separation of investment and commercial banking is still the law--for those in the know; provisions #16 and #21 of the Banking Reform Act of 1933. Back to Ms Strasburg;
The practice dates back to at least 2011, when senior Bank of America investment-bank officials in London started pushing subordinates to adopt the policy in order to take advantage of the lower funding costs enjoyed by the U.S. unit called Bank of America National Association, according to internal emails and the people familiar with the matter. The goal was to attract more hedge-fund clients to Bank of America’s European investment-banking unit, including clients that were engaged in the so-called dividend-arbitrage tax trades.
....Experts said it is inappropriate for Bank of America to tap the entity holding federally insured deposits to finance risky investment-banking trades.
Scary, scary, scary! Except that it wasn't complex tax avoidance trades that caused the financial crisis. That developed from homely old mortgage loans made fraudulently by mortgage brokers and real estate salesmen. From no-doc liar's loans.

Round up the usual suspect;
The issue of banks putting federally insured funds at risk has been under increased scrutiny by regulators since J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. in 2012 suffered more than $6 billion in losses on bad trades in its Chief Investment Office. Those blunders, led by a trader whose large positions earned him the “London Whale” moniker, resulted in J.P. Morgan paying $1 billion in fines for securities-law violations. The bank has said customer deposits weren’t harmed.
We've bolded the above to emphasize that this is all much ado about tempests in teapots. J.P. Morgan's shareholders took the entire loss created by the London Whale, and the financial system didn't even notice it, when it happened.

But a reporter made her deadline.

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