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Dimon’s Hedges Masks ‘Anything-Goes’ Trades, Merkley Says

JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon
Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, the Oregon Democrat pushing for tighter restrictions on banks’ bets with their own money through so-called proprietary trading, said JPMorgan Chase & Co. took too much risk through a strategy the company described as hedging.

“Portfolio hedging is just a name for saying anything goes, and we’ll continue proprietary trading,” Merkley said in an interview today on Bloomberg Television.

JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon is scheduled to testify today before the Senate Banking Committee to discuss a loss of more than $2 billion on credit derivatives. Dimon has said the New York-based bank has the financial strength to withstand the loss and that regulation such as the so-called Volcker rule, designed to limit banks’ wagers, could limit economic growth.

“I want to know whether or not he is determined to continue pressing for loopholes in the Volcker rule so he can continue proprietary trading or whether he recognizes that really is a role for hedge funds that shouldn’t be subsidized by American taxpayers,” Merkley said. “Here is a bank that has this enormous amount of money and instead of making loans to businesses, they are investing it through London in proprietary trading.”

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