How’s this for serendipity?
Just a couple weeks before Jamie Dimon announced publicly that his banking firm JPMorgan had lost a stunning $2 billion betting with depositor funds, he took to Fox News to criticize the Volcker Rule, meant to ban federally backstopped banks from engaging in proprietary trading.
Bill Moyers invited former Fed chairman Paul Volcker — the architect of the rule — to respond:
“You’ve got great advantages if you’re a government regulated bank,” Volcker explained. “Take the two big remaining investment banks — used to call them investment banks — Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Both during the crisis got a banking license. Why’d they get a banking license? They wanted the protection of the government in the middle of the crisis. Now the crisis is over, if they want to do proprietary trading, they want to do a lot of other things, it’s very simple: give up their banking license.”
This was back in April, but takes on greater significance now. JPM’s losses appear small enough that they won’t need the government to step in and cover them. But the idea behind the Volcker Rule is that federally insured banks shouldn’t be making these kinds of bets at all — because when the bets go spectacularly bad, it falls to taxpayers to cover them.