Monday, May 21, 2012

A Whale of a Tale

Said the boss of a trading facility,
Whose job was to crimp volatility:
"While I'm away jettin',
Be sure you don't threaten
The global financial stability."

Though much has been written about JP Morgan's "London Whale" and the $2-billion-and-growing loss that arose from his credit index trades, there has not been much focus on the interpersonal management dynamics of the case, until yesterday. The New York Times' Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Nelson Schwartz looked into the story and concluded that "Discord at J.P. Morgan Unit is Faulted at Loss." In a modern, highly-leveraged twist on "when the cat's away, the mice will play," it appears that the egos and ambitions of Bruno Iksil (the Whale) and his boss Achilles Macris could not be contained once the bank's chief investment officer, Ina Drew, was out sick for an extended period. Without Ms. Drew's "coolheaded, steely resolve", the internecine tensions between the CIO's New York and London offices devolved into daily screaming matches with no clear leader to to set limits and keep discipline.

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