Skip to main content

[NOTE: This crosspost from Michael Olenick is also Part II of a two-part post, today, with the headline of the first part of this post entitled: Already In Deep Hot Water, JPMorgan Chase May Have Just Reached Its Boiling Point (Part I of II). In advance, the diarist offers his apologies for any confusion that might be created due to the difference in the titles between Part I and Part II of these posts; but I promised Michael Olenick I'd keep the title of his section of this as close to his original copy as possible.]

Michael Olenick is a statistical analyst, businessman, writer and lawyer with a laser-like focus upon the housing, banking and mortgage industries. Since the onset of “The Lesser Depression,” at the end of 2007, his foreclosure-related work has been cited by many of the leading business journalists and media outlets in the U.S.: from the NY Times’ Gretchen Morgenson, to Bloomberg’s Kathleen Howley, to Time Magazine’s Stephen Gandel; he has appeared on telecasts with Dylan Ratigan (MSNBC) and Thom Hartmann (RT Network), among many others. He frequently crossposts his blog at Naked Capitalism. And, he has authored mortgage/foreclosure studies for the Congressional Oversight Panel and the American Civil Liberties Union. To learn more about Michael, simply click on THIS LINK.

[NOTE: Michael Olenick has provided diarist with formal, written authorization to reproduce his blog posts in their entirety for the benefit of the Daily Kos community.]

From Michael Olenick’s Seeing Through Data blog, and as it was also cross-posted at Naked Capitalism, on Monday, May 14th. You can follow him on Twitter at @michael olenick.

WhaleMu – JP Morgan’s Next Surprise?
Michael Olenick
Seeing Through Data blog
Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

In an admittedly strange twist of timing JP Morgan, the same JP Morgan that just announced a surprise $2 billion loss caused by the “London Whale,” became the first and only of 26 banks disclosing subprime investor data to flip me the digital bird, refusing access to the public loan-level performance data for their Washington Mutual loans. WaMu, one of the most reckless subprime lenders, was swallowed whole by JPM and they’re having serious indigestion.

Nelson D. Schwartz and Jessica Silver-Greenberg of the New York Times verify that the purpose of the Chief Investment Office — the London Whale — is to offset risk caused by the Washington Mutual loans:

Under Mr. Dimon’s leadership, the chief investment office — which was responsible for the outsize credit bet — was retooled to make larger bets with the bank’s money, a former employee said. Bank executives said the chief investment office expanded after JPMorgan Chase’s 2008 acquisition of Washington Mutual, which added riskier securities to the company’s portfolio. The idea behind the strategy was to offset that risk.
It isn’t hard to figure out why JP Morgan doesn’t want anybody looking into and through their garbage. I have not been able to ascertain whether these reports are required under disclosure requirement Regulation AB (the law itself seems to say yes, but the experts I spoke to gave divergent readings). Whether they are or aren’t, JPM’s refusal — when everybody else cooperated speaks for itself.

As those loans sour, and they continue to rot like a dead skunk on a hot July day, the bets needed to offset the losses are increasing. It looks like the bank, peering into that portfolio they refuse to share, is becoming more than a little bit desperate. Like a compulsive gambler after a multi-day bender resulting in crippling losses they decided to double down rather than walk away, leading to their current whale of a surprise and likely a mirror-image follow-up for the WaMu losses this was supposed to offset.

For anybody who believes that JPM’s position is normal .. it isn’t. Twenty-six other banks quickly popped open the doors to their repositories, as they’re required to do. Perennial bad-boy Aurora Loan Services is the only other one that’s ignored my requests, though since it looks like they’ve sold their servicing operations the jury’s out whether their silence is purposeful or whether there’s nobody home on the other side of those requests.

Like I said, I’m not sure whether these disclosures are exempt. There are certainly many marked private, but they seem to be overwhelmingly CDOs and similar more exotic or clearly closely held instruments. I’ve never seen an entire series of MBS from an issuer that is exempt: even a few stray WaMu deals that ended up in other repositories are open to the public.

JP Morgan’s insistence that “[t]he site is maintained for JPMorgan Chase RMBS clients,” only, demanding that I include my JP Morgan Chase contact, may be legal but it is unprecedented. In context of their recent trading losses, the knowledge that those losses were to hedge against the WaMu losses, Dimon’s prior comments downplaying both losses, and strong analysis that the WaMu loans are some of the most impaired MBS it’s fair to conclude that JPM is hiding something in the basin of their loan outhouse.

I’ve spent the past couple months holed away downloading MBS data in bulk to enable investors, analysts, academics, government agencies, or whoever else wants to inspect performance information and project losses for every subprime loan trust. When finished, this week hopefully, I’ll have a veritable ABS MRI machine that can peer into the true health of the housing and housing finance market. It’s harder than it sounds: one of those projects where software engineers emerge from their digital caves after months, bleary eyed and long past due for a haircut but holding game-changing technology.

My database, which includes everything except WaMu loans thanks to Jamie, is finally almost finished. But even in preliminary form it is clear that the AAA-rated senior tranches — the ones that really were never supposed to take losses — are toast that’s burning worse by the day. Servicers, trustees, government officials have been doing anything to delay the inevitable losses but when people don’t pay their mortgages, and housing has declined by over 50% in many of their markets, there’s only so much accounting chicanery they can do: the money just isn’t there.

My suspicious are more grounded than tin-hat delusions we’ve been hearing from the housing is hot again crowd. R&R Consulting, a well-regarded structured valuation expert I work closely with conducted a portfolio-wide analysis of undisclosed (“limbo”) losses on RMBS. In a special in-depth report dated February 2012, long before JPM told me piss-off when asking for access to the more granular WaMu loan-level data, they reported that WAMU had the highest limbo loss level–about $810 million—in just one transaction. Repeat: experienced analysts dug this out even without loan level data. It sounds likely that it won’t be long until Dimon reports another ten-figure surprise that I’m sure he’ll apologetically pawn off on the US taxpayer.

For anybody asking “um — isn’t this over — didn’t all this fall apart back in 2008?” the answer is not really. That mega-meltdown was really a mini tremor caused by the lower and smaller tiers of these securities; last time junior visited to stir things up but this time papa’s walking down the street carrying a mean look and a big stick. That’s because the mezzanine level tranches of most bubble-era MBA are either gone or guaranteed to be gone — finally eaten up by current or pending losses — leaving the lower AAA tranches to take their place as the bearer of losses. This was never supposed to happen. Everybody knew that CDOs created from the lower tranches were risky, even if the ratings agencies said otherwise, but nobody thought the meltdown would last this long that the actual top tranches would be nicked. But the data couldn’t be clearer: those bottom level A-class tranches of yesterday are the new bottom level M-class tranches of yesterday.

All this is surprising because these same MBS tranches have been on fire lately. Hedge funds bought them for very little when nobody wanted them — setting their own price — and now they’re selling them back at steep gains because housing is peachy again, never mind the enormous amount of shadow inventory. Hopefully the buyers of these same securities aren’t being set up, again, because nobody would be stupid enough to fall for that same trick, again. Hopefully.

It is these lower tranches and other derivative products, which are by definition exponentially smaller than the more senior securities like the ones JPM is hiding (well, before the banks multiplied them several times over using credit default swaps) that blew up the world economy in 2008.

I’m guessing that it is the inevitable meltdown of what remains of the AAAs (the amount outstanding has been reduced considerably by refis) that has been at the impetus for the housing cheerleaders. By refusing to move their foreclosures forward, then refusing to take title, then refusing to REO those homes, the trusts don’t have to recognize the losses because, ya’ know, the abandoned and dilapidated properties will magically double in value as long as we hold our breath and wish.

My mountain of data that shows loss severity in excess of 100-percent is not uncommon. When we look at the loans, compare similar loans from those who report them more honestly, multiply the average severity by pending reported and, um, overlooked foreclosures, then it becomes clear that the lowest rated AAA’s are toast. This reaffirms the report by R&R Consulting report that $175 billion of loan level losses had not been allocated to the trusts. Whoops!

Jamie Dimon admitted his $2 billion loss “plays right into the hands of a bunch of pundits out there” on his conference call explaining his stinky. Dimon went on to call the losses “egregious” and “self-inflicted.” In light of the London Whale it is clear that when it comes to sky-high risk, like JPM’s WaMu exposure, the bank has adopted an advanced risk management strategy: telling researchers to piss off then hiding.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Sylv, DeminNewJ, ferg, ogre, Jackson L Haveck, teacherken, Randomfactor, Wintermute, hyperstation, LEP, route66, bilge, expatjourno, Creosote, theRoaringGirl, wonkydonkey, whenwego, Dburn, farmerhunt, chimpy, taonow, ovals49, ctsteve, RLF, Dallasdoc, johanus, potatohead, NYFM, Chirons apprentice, defluxion10, papercut, lcrp, clarknyc, barbwires, dkmich, bwintx, exlrrp, shadowplayer, Deward Hastings, ScienceMom, davidincleveland, joanneleon, 3goldens, jrooth, tle, UncleCharlie, m16eib, newfie, disrael, ek hornbeck, democracy inaction, sc kitty, Militarytracy, KnotIookin, run around, eightlivesleft, dewtx, Brooke In Seattle, ratzo, fixxit, Beetwasher, Sun Tzu, Kayakbiker, skyounkin, jane123, Sandino, LucyandByron, Shaking the Tree, Pluto, bunsk, Brian B, Alan Arizona, jay23, xaxnar, Jim P, forbodyandmind, highfive, vigilant meerkat, dharmafarmer, Russgirl, tonyahky, ActivistGuy, Yellow Canary, deha, blueoasis, NBBooks, triv33, global citizen, gooderservice, gatorcog, JVolvo, joe shikspack, Preston S, hlsmlane, onionjim, profh, doingbusinessas, Cassiodorus, blueoregon, kurious, Friend of the court, a a, cpresley, DBunn, One Pissed Off Liberal, Sapere aude, pgm 01, Ken in MN, dotsright, Habitat Vic, Haningchadus14, Jarrayy, SpecialKinFlag, offgrid, Margfh, yoduuuh do or do not, la urracca, some other george, david mizner, terabytes, aliasalias, Seneca Doane, artisan, rivamer, mcc777c2, tcdup, Librarianmom, uciguy30, word player, cloudbustingkid, spearfish, Don midwest, Empower Ink, MKinTN, TruthFreedomKindness, Youffraita, bill warnick, Involuntary Exile, Laughing Vergil, Akonitum, KJG52, Its any one guess, Lujane, Tam in CA, Gemina13, petulans, priceman, Robobagpiper, watercarrier4diogenes, statsone, GustavMahler, divineorder, lostinamerica, maryabein, janmtairy, Zotz, shopkeeper, CamillesDad1, petral, roadbear, eb23, gulfgal98, Lady Libertine, ItsSimpleSimon, Publius2008, elengul, Actbriniel, Mac in Maine, allenjo, ozsea1, freesia, xylonjay, Bluerall, Teiresias70, marleycat, thomask, Wolf10, Claudius Bombarnac, muddy boots, SueM1121, tardis10, antooo, PhilJD, SteelerGrrl, jadt65, DRo, Auriandra, No one gets out alive, Nancy on Lake Michigan, Azazello, Siri, a2nite, 420 forever, Ginger1, Horace Boothroyd III, Mike RinRI, notdarkyet, Earth Bear, artmanfromcanuckistan, George3, katiec, BradyB, CalBearMom, Quasimodal, Dumas EagerSeton, blueoldlady, Lily O Lady, Blue Bell Bookworm, idbecrazyif, GenXBadger, dear occupant, entrelac, Jeff Murdoch, Icicle68, GreenMother, Smoh

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site