3:09am

Tue May 15, 2012
Election 2012

JPMorgan's Loss A Gain For Campaign Positioning

Originally published on Tue May 15, 2012 8:51 am

The fallout from banking giant JPMorgan Chase's $2 billion — and counting — loss has made its way into the presidential campaign. The president and presumptive GOP challenger Mitt Romney have very different views about the regulation of Wall Street, in particular the Dodd-Frank financial systems overhaul law.

In an appearance on The View set to air Tuesday but previewed Monday night on ABC's World News Tonight, President Obama pointed to JPMorgan's troubles as validation for his administration's policies. "This is why we passed Wall Street reform," he said.

The president described JPMorgan as one of the best managed banks around, saying the bank's president and CEO, Jamie Dimon, is "one of the smartest bankers we've got."

Yet the president said JPMorgan found a way to lose $2 billion, and maybe more, on a bad bet.

"You could have a bank that isn't as strong, isn't as profitable making those same bets, and we might have had to step in, and that's exactly why Wall Street reform is so important," Obama said.

Romney And Dodd-Frank

Overseeing the passage of the Dodd-Frank law is one of the Obama administration's major accomplishments. So perhaps it is no surprise that the Obama campaign quickly pointed out that Romney wants to repeal Dodd-Frank.

Campaign spokesman Ben Labolt says that would be "an engraved invitation for Wall Street to return to the biggest, riskiest bets that crashed the economy."

The Romney campaign responded, saying Romney believes in a system of sensible financial regulation. In March, a voter at an event in Ohio asked Romney if he plans to repeal Dodd-Frank.

"Yes. There's a direct answer," Romney said. He went on to say he would replace it along with some of the other measures he has promised to do away with as part of his campaign.

"When I get rid of Obamacare and I get rid of Dodd-Frank and I get rid of [the] Sarbanes-Oxley [Act], it doesn't mean that I don't want to have any law, or any regulation," Romney said. "It means I want to make sure it's modern, it's updated, [and] it goes after the bad guys, but it also encourages the good guys."

Romney devotes just one paragraph in his 160-page plan for jobs and economic growth to his vision for replacing Dodd-Frank. He says some of the concepts in the law have a place, like greater transparency and greater capital requirements.

Eliot Spitzer, former Democratic attorney general and governor of New York and a sort of Wall Street watchdog, says that isn't enough.

"The problem for Mitt Romney is that we all know he wants to repeal Dodd-Frank because his mantra is fewer regulations," Spitzer says. "Yet, he has never told us what he would replace it with."

That said, Spitzer and others point to the fact that JPMorgan was able to lose so much money so fast on a bad hedge as a sign that Dodd-Frank isn't perfect, either, and that the president didn't push hard enough to regulate Wall Street.

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Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

So the fallout from JPMorgan's $2 billion loss has already made its way into the presidential campaign. President Obama and his presumptive challenger, Mitt Romney, have very different views about the regulation of Wall Street and in particular, the Dodd-Frank law that we just heard about.

NPR's Tamara Keith reports.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: In an appearance on "The View," set to air today but previewed last night on ABC's "World News Tonight," President Obama pointed to JPMorgan's troubles as validation for his administration's policies.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT")

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is why we passed Wall Street reform.

KEITH: He described JPMorgan as one of the best-managed banks around.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT")

OBAMA: Jamie Dimon, the head of it, is one of the smartest bankers we've got.

KEITH: And yet, the president said, JPMorgan found a way to lose $2 billion, maybe more, on a bad bet.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT")

OBAMA: You could have a bank that isn't as strong, isn't as profitable making those same bets, and we might have had to step in. And that's exactly why Wall Street reform is so important.

KEITH: Overseeing the passage of the Dodd-Frank law is one of the Obama administration's major accomplishments. So perhaps it's no surprise that the Obama campaign quickly pointed out that Mitt Romney wants to repeal Dodd-Frank.

Campaign spokesman Ben Labolt says that would be, quote, "an engraved invitation to Wall Street to return to the biggest, riskiest bets that crashed the economy."

The Romney campaign responded, saying he believes in a system of sensible financial regulation.

In March, a voter at a town hall-style event in Ohio asked Romney if he plans to repeal Dodd-Frank.

(SOUNDBITE OF TOWN HALL MEETING)

MITT ROMNEY: Yes. All right, there's a direct answer.

KEITH: And Romney went on to say he would replace it, along some of the other measures he's promised to do away with as part of his campaign.

(SOUNDBITE OF TOWN HALL MEETING)

ROMNEY: By the way, when I get rid of Obamacare, and I get rid of Dodd-Frank, and I get rid of Sarbanes-Oxley, it doesn't mean that I don't want to have any law, or any regulation. It means I want to make sure it's modern; it's updated; it goes after the bad guys, but it also encourages the good guys.

KEITH: Romney devotes just one paragraph in his 160-page plan for jobs and economic growth, to his vision for replacing Dodd-Frank. He says some of the concepts in the law have a place, like greater transparency and greater capital requirements.

But Eliot Spitzer, former Democratic attorney general and governor of New York, and a sort of Wall Street watchdog, says that isn't enough.

ELIOT SPITZER: The problem for Mitt Romney is that we all know he wants to repeal Dodd-Frank because his mantra is fewer regulations, and yet he has never told us what he would replace it with.

KEITH: That said, Spitzer and others point to the fact that JPMorgan was able to lose so much money so fast, on a bad hedge, as a sign that Dodd-Frank isn't perfect, either; and the president didn't push hard enough to regulate Wall Street.

Tamara Keith, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.