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Playing the Game

8:59 AM, Jun 13, 2012 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
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"We will lose some of our shareholders’ money — and for that, we feel terrible — but no client, customer or taxpayer money was impacted by this incident.  We have let a lot of people down, and we are sorry for it." 

Mr. Jamie Dimon will utter these words to a panel of U.S. senators today. Nothing, yet, on whether he will then rend his Savile Row garments and replace them with something in a nice sackcloth. 

Mr. Dimon's testimony will concern his firms loss of some money. The amount is in the neighborhood of $2 billion, which is the kind of loose change that the senators leave under the sofa cushions when they are on break. Last month, alone, the country blew through $125 billion that it didn't have and hadn't budgeted for, since the senators have not done any budgeting for three years now. Which gives new dimensions, if not new meaning, to the game of playing fast and loose with other people's money. Mr. Dimon's traders are not in the same league with these people. Not even close. 

J.P. Morgan Chase has lost shareholders' money. At the end of their hearings, the senators may come to the conclusion that it is part of a trend. Yesterday, we learned that that the median net worth of American families has declined by 40 percent and is now back where it was in 1992. We are talking, here, about nearly $8 trillion in losses. 

One wonders if the senators "feel terrible" about these losses, the way Mr. Dimon does about those shareholders who have suffered. If so, one feels certain that they, like Mr. Dimon, will soon rub some dirt on it and get back in the game.  

It’s how they do.

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