CEO Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase (shown left) went public with a whale of tale today about how one of its investors, Bruno Michel Iksil, known as the “London Whale” lost $2 billion in bad bets on volatile synthetic credit securities. What is most striking about the story is that Dimon was the executive who led efforts to limit reforms by the Federal Reserve after the last financial scandal. Now he says “There were many errors, sloppiness and bad judgment . . . grievous mistakes, they were self-inflicted.” Sound familiar?
Iksil is also known as “Voldemort” because of the massive power he wielded. Dimon has worked hard to prevent reforms limiting or monitoring such risk-taking enterprises. This includes opposition to the Volcker rule and related reforms.
Now Dimon is expected to blame the whale rather than his own anti-reform position. It is not the first time that a mad leader personified his own failings:
“All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Ahab, were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in Moby Dick. He piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it.”
– Moby Dick, Herman Melville
Dimon can save time on writing his own testimony and simply take this from Melville:
Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common pool! and since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale!
He might however want to check what happened to Ahab in his final encounter with the whale.