NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- In what universe other than Wall Street is $11,000,000,000 in fines considered welcomed news? After rumors circulated JPMorgan (JPM) may resolve most if not all significant regulatory issues with one $11 billion check, shares traded higher.
Wall Street loves certainty, or at least the perception of certainty, and Jim Cramer calls it cheap. Cramer has a point within the context of how large JPMorgan is, and rising litigation costs that are already in the billions of dollars a settlement may make financial sense.
Maybe I'm getting old because a billion dollars is still a lot of money in my mind. As a result, I have trouble wrapping my head around the positive aspects of paying a multi-billion dollar fine. I'm in the same camp as The Street's Phillip van Doom's outstanding article that the rumored fines are closer to extortion than a future deterrent.
I trust the executives at JPMorgan understand a billion dollars is a lot of money, too, but it's not their money, it's shareholder money. Shareholders should reject the notion of paying for the alleged sins of employees, and demand regulators make their case against the bad actors instead of punishing shareholders further.I'm on the record as incredibly bullish for JPMorgan and Jamie Dimon. When Dimon testified in front of Congress, I cheered for him. I didn't believe more than half the politicians in the room could balance a checkbook (certainly not the Federal Budget), much less understand the world of derivative mark-to-market accounting. It shouldn't have surprised anyone other than maybe congressional hearing members that Dimon would run circles around everything they could throw at him and come out on top; after all, Dimon was the smartest guy in the room. I remain bullish on JPMorgan, but I am reevaluating my thoughts on Jamie Dimon. I no longer remain convinced shareholders are receiving the best value for the price they are paying. Along with other benefits, Dimon receives $23 million a year as CEO. In January, under the scorching heat of the London "whale" losses, Dimon announced he would forgo $11.5 million. That hardly puts a dent in the losses shareholders have endured and are expected to realize.
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