Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker was the first in Congress to call for a hearing to understand the recent $2 billion loss reported by JPMorgan.
The call by Sen. Corker, who serves on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, coupled with his earned credibility during his tenure, was a serious request that will result in answers.
In interviews with CNBC, Corker demonstrated one of the reasons for his credibility. In contrast to jumping on an immediate political opportunity to capture headlines with sensational claims, Corker drilled the common sense of leadership into the situation with his remarks: "I'd like for us to be dealing with reality instead of myth and perception. I just want to make sure we have a good policy outcome here."
The JPMorgan loss comes as Congress continues deliberations on the proposed Volcker Rule being drafted with the intent of preventing banking institutions from taking excessive risks. The loss also occured with 40 regulators from the Federal Reserve embedded within the company.
Yet, doing due diligence, Sen. Corker's staff spoke with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency bank examiner who actually is tasked with oversight of JPMorgan.
Responding to inquiries as to the impact of the Volcker Rule had it already been law and prevented the excessive risk, the examiner noted "that's just absolutely not their perspective."
Senators Carl Levin, D-Michigan, and Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, authors of the Volcker Rule provision that is just one part of financial reform law being crafted, echoed the sentiment that these types of trades were the intended target but that a loophole in the existing proposal would have allowed JPMorgan transactions such as those that led to the $2 billion loss.
The moral to this story is nowhere near as complex as the trades being made by the banking giant. Risk cannot be completely removed from our lives by legislation. Risk, being an ingredient that yields the rewards of investing, should not be removed from our financial institutions. Finally, the financially illiterate make up the crowd demanding intervention at every turn that already has created dysfunction in our markets and the frozen capital that swiftly could reverse our recession.
Our financial institutions need regulation and oversight that carries enforced stiff penalties for reckless behavior and activity. Those institutions do not need politicians responding in a fashion best summarized by, "Ready, Fire, Aim!"
Sen. Corker, kudos for your leadership and insight.