Weil on Finance: JPMorgan Swings Big

Here are links to morning reading.

Happy Friday, View fans. You know the drill.

JPMorgan Chase might not be any smarter than you are, but it is much bigger than you are.

And that's why it can make so much money. Here's an example, brought to us by Bloomberg News reporter Lisa Abramowicz, who spotlights a great example of how JPMorgan throws its weight around because it can: "On Wall Street, $3,500 goes further than anyone dared imagine in the 1980s when the predecessor to JPMorgan Chase & Co. charged the fee to trade each non-investment grade loan it sold. That surcharge remains the same today and helps the biggest U.S. bank dominate the secretive $1.1 trillion junk-loan market while stifling profits for investors and rivals, which mostly stopped charging it years ago. The New York-based bank waives it for exclusive customers: trade with JPMorgan, no fee; trade one of its loans with anyone else, pay up."

What did Credit Suisse's CEO know, and when did he know it ?

This is just wonderful. After Brady Dougan testified to a Senate investigative panel that senior management at Credit Suisse Group AG didn't know the bank was helping customers hide money from the Internal Revenue Service, the Schweizerischer Bankpersonalverband, which represents staff at Credit Suisse and other Swiss banks, demanded an apology, saying it wasn't credible that top executives knew nothing of the practices: "It was common knowledge that tax evasion was the strategy, a business model pursued by many banks for a long time."

What Ukraine can learn from Bulgaria.

Johns Hopkins economics professor Steve Hanke writes that Ukraine should learn from Bulgaria's fiscal and financial discipline and adopt a currency board, like Bulgaria did in 1997: "No more running to the central bank for a fiscal bailout. A currency board ties the hands of those meddlesome monetary authorities. And forget the silly theoretical and obscure arguments made by economists who don't embrace fixed exchange rates. A currency board regime is all about discipline."

More fun facts about the Facebook-WhatsApp deal .

Here's one from Bloomberg News reporter Sarah Frier: "Facebook Inc. investors who pushed the company's shares to a record after it unveiled the $19 billion deal for WhatsApp Inc. would be well served to remember -- every Internet takeover of more than $10 billion has flopped."

On a non-GAAP basis, I'm worth more money than Rupert Murdoch.

Here's a superb article by Michael Rapoport of the Wall Street Journal about how lots of companies are using ridiculous nonstandard earnings metrics as an excuse to pay their executives higher bonuses: "Last year, 542 companies said they determine compensation using financial measurements that differ from U.S. accounting standards, according to an analysis performed by consultant Audit Analytics for the Wall Street Journal. That is more than double the 249 companies that did so in 2009. The practice can be controversial because it strips out various costs -- from employee stock payments to asset write-downs -- that can depress profits."

If you took off your clothes in front of a webcam while chatting on a Yahoo account, the British intelligence community may still have the footage on file.

It's a brave new world. The Guardian had another amazing story yesterday from the Edward Snowden files: "Britain's surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the U.S. National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, secret documents reveal. GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not. In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery -- including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications -- from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally." Yahoo! Inc. said it's very upset about this, understandably.

(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

    To contact the author on this story:
    Jonathan Weil at jweil16@bloomberg.net

    To contact the editor on this story:
    James Greiff at jgreiff@bloomberg.net

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