JP Morgan's Loss Blooms to an Astounding $9 Billion

When JP Morgan announced a $2 billion loss on one blundered trade, it was bad news. When CEO Jamie Dimon admitted the amount could double to $4 billion by the end of the year, it was worse news. When the loss bloomed to $3 billion in less than a week, it was even worse news. Today Teri Buhl reports that the bank could lose $9 billion.

How significant is the difference between $3 billion and $9 billion? "The chief investment office earned more than $5 billion in the last three years," DealBook reported earlier this year. A $9 billion loss would make the investment office a huge net loser overall thanks to one bad trade. JP Morgan's second-quarter earners were on track for $3 billion when we last checked. A $9 billion loss, therefore, would wipe out three such quarters of earnings -- although we don't yet know how the loss will bloom and when it will be reported.

The policy question that matters is whether Dodd-Frank would have prevented the trade, and the answer is we really don't know, because (a) the so-called Volcker Rule that would put limits on risky prop trade hasn't been written yet and (b) we don't know for sure what these trade even looked like on the inside. As it stands, it's just a big bad number.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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