October 19, 2015

"The Bankers Have Gone Through This Before. They Know How It Ends, And It’s Not Pretty"

When even the commodity traders got caught in the crossfire of the energy rout - those supposedly smartest men (and women) in the room who were so smart, they not only never saw the commodity price crash nor did they hedge for any such possibility, leading to such snafus as both Glencore and Noble Group calling their investors and assuring them day after day that they won't go bankrupt overnight - one question many have asked is how have the major banks gotten through unscathed so far.
This is especially true when one considers that the energy exposure of the big 3 TBTF banks is just over $150 billion. According to Bloomberg calculations Citigroup’s energy portfolio, including loans and unfunded commitments, swelled to $59.7 billion as of June 30, Bank of America’s to $47.3 billion, and JPMorgan’s to $43.6 billion, according to company filings.
And while some smaller banks such as Jefferies took massive charge offs on their energy prop book, which pushed Q3 FICC revenue negative for the first time ever, none of the big banks have disclosed any material, or even immaterial impairments on their tens of billions in energy loan books.
One explanation, and by far the simplest and most logical one, is that banks floating on $2.5 trillion in excess reserves, can not reveal, or otherwise mark to market, their loan book simply because they are, well, soaking in liquidity. This is what happened in late 2008, when instead of excess reserves banks were huddled by the Fed's discount window liquidity spigot, pledging such "collateral" as the stock of bankrupt companies (as we have previously shown). That, and also cranking up leverage to 35x, 40x or more. The repricing of all this leverage and Fed generosity once Lehman could no longer kick the can on its day to day funding, is what led to the great financial crisis. 
This time, everyone is in on it, and if a TBTF bank fails, it will drag not only the Fed, but all central banks down with it, and everyone knows it, so why would or should Jamie Dimon bother telling the truth about his true energy exposure? It is not as if the regulators will make him tell the truth, even if they know he is lying: case in point - all those "unsavory" events that JPM has spent $35 billion in legal settlements "neither admitting nor denying" they happened.

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