Apparently running a museum is enough to qualify you to judge whether a bank's risk is too big. At least according to JPMorgan Chase.
The committee responsible for overseeing risks at JPMorgan includes Ellen Futter, the head of the American Museum of Natural History, Bloomberg reports. Futter also sat on the governance committee of AIG in 2008 right before the firm's infamous collapse. Other committee members include the CEO of a defense contractor and a man who hasn’t worked on Wall Street for 25 years. What the committee's missing that all the other big banks have: people who worked as financial risk managers.
The makeup of JPMorgan's committee hasn’t changed since 2008, but the bank was warned last year that it wasn’t up to the task of monitoring the bank’s risk. CtW Investment Group, a labor-backed shareholder group, sought to remove Futter and urged the bank to increase the committee’s authority, according to Reuters.
UPDATE: JPMorgan is planning on shaking up the members of its risk committee, the Wall Street Journal reports. The change was reportedly in the works before the bank disclosed a $2 billion trading loss on May 10.
JPMorgan has come under fire in the wake of the loss that may have already cost the bank $30 billion, if the drop in its stock price is included. When JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon disclosed the loss earlier this month, he said it was the result of "egregious self-inflicted mistakes," adding that the bad trades were “poorly executed and poorly monitored.”
The bank’s chief investment office, the group responsible for the trade, is developing a reputation for questionable risk management. It invested in financially troubled companies including LightSquared Inc., a wireless broadband provider that filed for bankruptcy earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reports.
In addition, Irvin Goldman, the man responsible for overseeing risk in JPMorgan's CIO, was fired by Cantor Fitzgerald in 2007 for making losing bets that resulted in sanctions from regulators, according to BusinessWeek. Ina Drew, the head of the CIO, retired earlier this month in the wake of the scandal.
Still, despite the less-than-conservative risk strategy at his bank, many have praised Dimon for his risk management. Even after news of the loss broke, President Obama said that Dimon is "one of the smartest bankers we got."
JPMorgan's whale fail and nine other big bank disasters:
JPMorgan Chase Loses $2 Billion
On May 10th, the U.S.'s largest bank JPMorgan Chase announced one of its London trading desks had lost <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/10/jpmorgan-chase-london-whale_n_1507662.html?ref=business" target="_hplink">$2 billion on bad bets on credit derivatives</a>.
UBS Trader Loses $2 Billion
Kweku Adoboli, a trader for Swiss bank UBS, lost <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/15/ubs-traders_n_963715.html" target="_hplink">$2 billion on unauthorized trades in September 2011</a>.
MF Global Collapse
Brokerage firm <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/31/mf-global-to-file-for-bankruptcy_n_1066902.html" target="_hplink">MF Global filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy</a> in October 2011 after a failed $6 billion bet on European debt.
Rogue Societe General Trader Loses $6 Billion
Hailed as "history's biggest rogue trading scandal" at the time, French trader Jerome Kerviel was convicted in October 2010 of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/05/jerome-kerviel-rogue-fren_n_750464.html" target="_hplink">losing French bank Societe General around $6 billion</a> due to unauthorized trades.
Bear Sterns Bought By JPMorgan Chase
After a run on investment bank Bear Sterns nearly caused its collapse in 2007, JPMorgan bought the firm for $2 a share the following March, <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/mar2008/db20080316_356646.htm" target="_hplink">Businessweek</a> reports.
AIG Largest Single Bailout
Insurance company AIG became the recipient of the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/08/aig-bailout-realize-15-billion-profit-taxpaers-gao_n_1498645.html" target="_hplink">largest ever government bailout for a single corporation</a> when a $182 billion rescue package saved it from a liquidity crisis following a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/08/aig-bailout-realize-15-billion-profit-taxpaers-gao_n_1498645.html" target="_hplink">downgrade of its credit rating</a> in 2008.
Washington Mutual Bankruptcy
One of the biggest players in retail banking and mortgages during the housing crisis, Washington Mutual filed for Chapter 11 in September 2008, after sustaining losses on billions of dollars worth of mortgage and home loans, <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/id/46793926/WaMu_Emerges_From_Bankruptcy_Protection" target="_hplink">CNBC</a> reports.
Citigroup came to the brink of collapse after it reported losses around $10 billion in 2007, in part due to failed mortgage investments, <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2008/01/15/news/companies/citigroup_earnings/index.htm" target="_hplink">CNNMoney</a> reported. To keep the bank afloat the government issued <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/11/23/feds-consider-plan-to-res_n_145856.html" target="_hplink">a $20 billion bailout in November of that year</a>.
Merill Lynch Shocks Investors With Big Loss
After projecting a $4.5 billion loss during the third quarter of 2007, Merrill Lynch shocked investors by reporting a $7.9 billion deficit from trading mortgage-backed securities and other structured products, <a href="http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2007/11/26/101232838/" target="_hplink">according to CNNMoney</a>.
Barings Bank Collapse
One time star trader Nick Leeson was responsible for sinking British bank Barings after losing $1 billion when an an earthquake struck Kobe, Japan in 1995, causing his investments in the Nikkei to fail as the Japanese stock exchange crashed, <a href="http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1937349_1937350_1937488,00.html" target="_hplink">TIME reported</a>.