JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) and Goldman Sachs ( GS) each are credited with navigating the credit crisis better than most, but the two companies have taken vastly different approaches to getting the government monkey off their backs. JPMorgan Chase, which received a $25 billion preferred equity investment from the government through the Troubled Asset Relief Program, wants to repay the investment "as soon as possible" and has the "wherewithal" to do so now, says CEO Jamie Dimon. But unlike Goldman, which on Tuesday priced $5 billion worth of common stock to help pay back a $10 billion TARP Investment, JPMorgan has not yet made any public moves to back up its words. "We want to do what's in the interests of the United States in addition to what's in the interests of JPMorgan," Dimon said in answer to an analyst question during JPMorgan Chase's quarterly earnings conference call on Thursday. "We don't think we need more capital. We obviously will await the results of the stress test and guidance from the government and see what happens." Dimon said JPMorgan is "waiting for guidance from the government of the United States." Goldman also says it will await the OK from its regulators after its stress test is completed sometime later this month, but has been much more aggressive in public about its desire to return the money. "We never believed the investment of taxpayer funds was intended to be permanent, thus we view it as our duty to return the funds as long as we can do it without negatively impacting our financial profile or ability to act as a central liquidity provider to the global capital markets," CFO David Viniar said on the company's earnings call on Tuesday.
JPMorgan Chase's tangible common equity ratio was estimated at 7.2% at the end of the quarter, while Tier 1 capital was at 11.3%. Excluding the TARP capital, JPMorgan Chase would still have a Tier 1 capital level of 9.2%. "That 9% and 7% wouldn't change if TARP were repaid," Dimon said. He added that he sees no reason why "a company with that kind of capital" would have to raise additional capital. Still, Dimon cautioned that raising capital "may not be solely up to us." "We could raise it," he said. "
W hat Goldman did is what Goldman did. It has nothing to do with us." But David Trone, an analyst at Fox-Pitt Kelton Caronia Cochran Waller, believes that JPMorgan Chase management is "getting very frustrated with the consequences of holding TARP capital," as politicians look to meddle further in the bank's business and the media obsesses over when banks will repay their TARP capital. "Therefore, it is now much clearer that management will pay back TARP as soon as allowed, and will likely do so without raising new capital (unless a deal comes on the radar screen)," he writes in a note.