JPMorgan's Dimon says trading losses isolated event

WASHINGTON Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:47pm EDT

Commuters are reflected in stone as they walk past the JP Morgan headquarters in New York, May 17, 2012. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Commuters are reflected in stone as they walk past the JP Morgan headquarters in New York, May 17, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co's (JPM.N) recent trading losses are an isolated incident and the bank is expected to be "solidly profitable" in the second quarter, Jamie Dimon, the bank's chief executive, will tell the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday.

Dimon will tell the committee the bank feels terrible about the trading debacle, while emphasizing the losses will only hurt shareholders, not taxpayers, and the bank maintains a "fortress balance sheet," according to his prepared testimony.

"While we can never say we won't make mistakes - in fact, we know we will - we do believe this to be an isolated event," Dimon will say, according to his testimony released by the bank on Tuesday.

Last month, JPMorgan announced that a hedging strategy had gone awry and produced at least $2 billion in unexpected trading losses.

The surprising admission from the nation's largest bank, which is known for gracefully navigating the recent financial crisis, has prompted questions about whether some banks are too big to manage.

Dimon in his prepared testimony did not provide an updated estimate for the losses, but said progress was being made to reduce the risk associated with the trading positions.

Dimon is contrite in his testimony and says the bank did not have proper risk protections in place in the Chief Investment Office where the losses occurred.

He makes clear, however, that the bank remains in solid shape and that the bank's size was not the core problem. Rather, it was a poorly conceived trading strategy that was not reviewed by senior management.

"Our fortress balance sheet remains intact," he said. "While there are still two weeks left in our second quarter, we expect our quarter to be solidly profitable."

PROBLEMS STARTED IN JANUARY

Dimon portrays the losses as the result of miscalculations and failures of oversight related to the bank's decision to reduce the amount of risky assets it held in preparation for new international capital standards known as Basel III.

Dimon said the bank could have simply reduced the amount of these risky assets on its books but the CIO office instead, starting in mid-January, "embarked on a complex strategy" that involved adding positions traders believed could offset the existing assets.

"The strategy was not carefully analyzed or subjected to rigorous stress testing within CIO and was not reviewed outside CIO," Dimon says.

Dimon said that the bank has made "real progress" in managing and reducing the risk associated with these trading positions.

"While this does not reduce the losses already incurred and does not preclude future losses, it does reduce the probability and magnitude of future losses," he said.

(Reporting By Dave Clarke, David Henry and Alexandra Alper; Editing by Gary Hill and Tim Dobbyn)