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No Place to Hide

Posted at 6:28 p.m. EDT on Friday, July 13

One of the two, either JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) or Wells Fargo ( WFC), was supposed to screw up.

At 6:15 a.m. EDT when JPMorgan first started dribbling out the news, of not just the losses we all expected, but a restatement of its first quarter, it looked like JPM would provide the weakness. But as we scrolled through it, the language looked uncannily like other language I have seen in my career when you catch something an employee did wrong after the quarter is reported. In other words, the restatement was the tell that CEO Jamie Dimon had gotten bad-faith data from his own people -- and fraud is hard to game.

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So, those who shorted on the restatement -- and there were many, because the before-hours volume was huge -- ended up having to cover when it turned out that there really was a rogue employee, and not a failure of oversight by Dimon. Then we saw at 7 a.m. that the quarterly numbers were better than expected and the losses quantified and contained. There was no bear case to speak of, at least down at $34, and the rest was history.

So then we turned to Wells Fargo for some negativity and it, too, originally gave it to us, with some verbiage about expenses running too high.

But we wanted to see revenue growth, Wells had it in spades. Management made it clear that the expense growth simply had to happen given the vast opportunities for lending. Put simply, it was a monster quarter.

So, with no resistance from either, and yet with a hefty short base, we had the two biggest banks setting a tone that simply never quit. And any time it almost did, crazed coverers came in ahead of the good news out of China.

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