J.P. Morgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank, isn’t planning on ramping up risk, even if Donald Trump does “do a number” on Dodd-Frank.
Earlier this month, Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of rival Goldman Sachs, said that he would like to operate his bank with less capital and take on more risk if regulators let him. “Left to our own devices, we wouldn’t hold as much capital as we’re holding,” Blankfein told attendees at an investor conference in Miami Beach, responding to a question about what regulatory changes he’d like to see under Trump.
One of the key impacts of Dodd-Frank, the banking reform law that was passed in the wake of the financial crisis, was to push the nation’s largest banks to hold more capital to cover bad loans and bad trades. President Trump has signaled his desire to roll back the law, which he says has made it hard for his friends to borrow.
Unlike Goldman, though, J.P. Morgan (JPM) doesn’t appear to be planning to go capital-lite, and “risk on,” even if Present Trump allows it to do so. On Tuesday, at the bank’s investor day, CFO Marianne Lake told analysts and other attendees that J.P. Morgan has no plans to significantly reduce the amount of capital it holds against bad loans.
J.P. Morgan currently holds enough capital to cover losses on about 12.2% of its loans, investments and other assets. That might not sound high, but it’s significantly higher than before Dodd-Frank was passed. Back in the mid-2000s most of the nation’s biggest banks had whittled their capital ratios down to as lows as 3% of their riskiest assets. J.P. Morgan never got quite that low.
But, in the wake of the credit crunch, Dimon was initially reluctant to build up the bank’s capital ratio as high as international regulators wanted, calling regulation that would force his bank to do so “un-American.” J.P. Morgan, these days, seems more comfortable with more capital. What’s more, it has always run a more diversified, and likely less risky, bank than Goldman Sachs and others on Wall Street.
On Tuesday, Lake said that J.P. Morgan’s capital ratio is likely, at least this year, to rise from where it is, not fall. Lake did say that J.P. Morgan could lower its capital ratio in the future, but does not plan to go lower than 11%, which would be a big move in terms of dollars, but still far higher than the capital ratios of a decade ago.
What’s more, it doesn’t appear the bank is likely to pull back on spending to comply with regulations either. Also on Tuesday, J.P. Morgan said that it expects the bank’s overall expenses to rise nearly $2 billion in 2017.