By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: March 21, 2023 ~
Jamie Dimon is the Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the U.S., which is also ranked the riskiest global bank by its regulators. But instead of getting his own house in order in the midst of a banking crisis, Dimon has been peculiarly focused elsewhere.
Over the past five days, Jamie Dimon’s legions of publicists have been burning up the phone lines with reporters, pushing the narrative that Jamie Dimon is some kind of financial wizard who needs to have a seat at the table to save the regional bank, First Republic Bank. (Scroll down here to see the exhaustive public relations effort that has gone into this narrative.)
Last Thursday, news hit the wire services that Dimon had lined up 11 banks willing to place $30 billion in uninsured deposits into First Republic Bank. JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo each ponied up $5 billion – or two-thirds of the $30 billion. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) caps federal deposit insurance at $250,000 per depositor, per bank.
Taking $5 billion of your bank’s shareholders’ money and throwing it at a regional bank whose stock price is collapsing, was not viewed as the brightest of ideas by the stock market. Last Friday, the day after the deal was announced, shares of First Republic Bank dropped 32 percent. Yesterday, First Republic’s share price collapsed by another 47 percent. Over the weekend, S&P Global downgraded First Republic’s credit rating for a second time in a week to deeper junk status. Year-to-date, First Republic Bank has lost 90 percent of its market value. What exactly is there left to save?
We should also note that First Republic Bank’s Palm Beach, Florida branch is where Donald Trump’s hush money was wired to porn star Stormy Daniels by his attorney, Michael Cohen. (See our reporting here and the Wall Street Journal’s here.)
Today, a headline appears at Bloomberg News that provides a big clue as to what Jamie Dimon’s frantic obsession with First Republic Bank is really about, that is, use a collapsing regional bank to get Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on board to push for a government guarantee on all deposits, insured and uninsured, at all FDIC banks. By framing this as coming to the rescue of regional banks, rather than another crony bailout of the unaccountable mega banks on Wall Street, Jamie Dimon doesn’t have to explain to his compromised Board of Directors why 69 percent of the bank’s deposits were uninsured at year end. (See: If You’re Baffled as to Why JPMorgan Chase’s Board Hasn’t Sacked Jamie Dimon as the Bank Racked Up 5 Felony Counts – Here’s Your Answer.)
Our scenario is supported by the following hard facts:
First Republic Bank’s regulatory filing for December 31, 2022 shows that it held $176.25 billion in deposits, of which $119.47 billion were uninsured, or 68 percent of all deposits. JPMorgan Chase’s same regulatory filing (FFIEC Call Report) for December 31, 2022 shows that at year-end it held $2.015 trillion in deposits in domestic offices, of which an estimated $1.058 trillion were uninsured.
Yellen’s upcoming actions on this matter would have a lot more credibility had she not decided to line her pockets with millions of dollars in speaking fees from the mega banks on Wall Street after being replaced as Chair of the Fed in 2018. (See Janet Yellen’s Cash Haul of $7 Million Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg; She Failed to Report Her Wall Street Speaking Fees from JPMorgan and Others in 2018.)
Editor’s Update: This article has been corrected in the next to last paragraph to indicate that in JPMorgan Chase’s domestic offices, it held $2.015 trillion in deposits, per its FFIEC Call Report for the period ending December 31, 2022.