America’s new pastime: investigating JPMorgan

Hardly a week goes by without a new report about a government investigation of JPMorgan Chase and how much money the bank might have to pay because of some alleged violation of the law.

Bloomberg columnist Jonathan Weil writes that the ritual is familiar by now.

Details of the probe emerge, then settlement talks get leaked by one side or the other before the case is resolved, perhaps as a pressure tactic or to alert the market so that the final deal is barely news once it’s unveiled. And the outcome proves unsatisfying because the company doesn’t admit liability for breaking any specific laws.

The cases often present a bounty of ironies for a company that has reported $21.3bn of legal fees and litigation costs since the start of 2008, which is almost as much as it paid in shareholder dividends.

Sometimes the proceedings seem like bona fide attempts at law enforcement, notwithstanding that JPMorgan will always be afforded special treatment as a too-big-to-fail bank. Other times the payments look like a mere cost of doing business, with no moral judgment attached, even if the claim is something as serious as fraud.

Hit the link below to access the complete Bloomberg article:

America’s New Pastime: JPMorgan Investigations

Has Eric Holder Found Wall Street’s Nightmare?

Do Bank of America’s Victims Think They Got Taken?

Jonathan Weil joined Bloomberg News as a columnist in 2007, and his columns on finance and accounting won Best in the Business awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in 2009 and 2010.

Weil was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal from 1997 to 2006, and before that at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock. He grew up in Hollywood, Fla., and has a bachelor's degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a law degree from Southern Methodist University.

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