JPMorgan Chase is either our largest or second-largest bank, depending on when and how you ask the question. News stories often point out that it has $2 trillion in asset, which sounds impressive. But they usually fail to mention that it has liabilities of more than $2 trillion, too, leaving it roughly $183 billion in the black.
That ain't bad - but it's not much more net worth than you'll see sitting around the table when Mitt Romney's Super PAC friends get together for lunch.
And we can't trust those numbers. We now know that these risky London deals weren't accurately conveyed in last year's annual report. What else don't we know about JPM's liabilities?
All of our big banks were on the hook for hundreds of trillions of dollars in the run-up to the financial crisis of 2008. And now they're bigger than ever. How big? We don't know for sure - and that's a big part of the problem.
Our four largest banks have 95 percent of the total exposure to derivatives. Two years ago we analyzed the raw data and found that JPM alone held 44 percent of that risk - and JPM has grown since then.
Because they intend to keep right on growing. As Jamie Dimon promised shareholders, “I want to assure you that your company will be bigger and stronger and better a year from today.”
If that doesn't frighten you, you haven't been paying attention.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2004:
President Bush took a spill during a Saturday afternoon bike ride on his ranch, suffering bruises and cuts that were visible later on his face just two days before he was to deliver a major prime-time speech on his Iraq policy.
The president was nearing the end of a 17-mile ride on his mountain bike, accompanied by a Secret Service agent, a military aide and his personal physician, Richard Tubb, who treated him at the scene, said White House spokesman Trent Duffy.
"It's been raining a lot and the topsoil is loose," Duffy said. "You know this president. He likes to go all-out. Suffice it to say he wasn't whistling show tunes." [...]
So rain on the 13th and (barely) 14th was blamed for a Bush fall on the 22nd. As everything else, it wasn't Bush's fault. Nothing is Bush's fault.