Updated with additional information, analyst commentary.
NEW YORK (
(JPM - Get Report) $2 billion- trading fiasco has renewed the calls for tighter regulation of banks.
But some argue that the answer lies not in tighter regulation, but in breaking up the big banks.
JPMorgan said two weeks ago that its chief investment office had racked up over $2 billion in losses since the end of the first quarter, weeks after CEO Jamie Dimon had dismissed reports about the division's market-disrupting trading activities as a "tempest in a teapot."
Lawmakers have been demanding that the nation's biggest bank share more information about the nature of the trades that caused the massive loss.
The Commodities Futures Trading Commission has opened up
an investigation into the trading loss
A lot of the analysis is focusing on whether the bank's trades may have been in violation of the Volcker Rule, which has yet to be passed and is likely to be at least two years away from being implemented.
The Volcker Rule seeks to prohibit banks from proprietary trading, wherein they bet their own capital for profit. But the rule, in its current draft, makes exemptions for activities that banks describe as "legitimate hedging."
However, JPMorgan's recent loss, which it says stemmed from a botched attempt to hedge against a stressed credit environment, has critics arguing that there is a very thin, blurry line between hedging and speculation.
JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon himself admitted as much in the company's annual meeting. "We do continue to believe in the importance of being able to hedge risk as an institution," he said. "However, we also understand the need for rules and practices to ensure that hedging doesn't morph into something different. What this hedge morphed into violates our own principles."
Now, democrats and proponents of tighter regulation on Wall Street are calling on lawmakers to toughen the Volcker rule and do away with the loopholes.
Banks who have been lobbying Washington to rewrite rules to make them less stringent and buy more time for their implementation might find themselves on the losing end.
Republicans who have been arguing that Washington is over-regulating the banking system continue to push back on such ideas, arguing that the business is inherently volatile.
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