JPMorgan revealed this week that it had reduced its size and complexity enough to be awarded a lower capital surcharge by regulators. Interestingly Jamie Dimon used to habitually boast about JPMC’s “fortress balance sheet” using the phrase on earnings calls at least once a year from 2007 to 2013. He then, according to Factset, suddenly stopped.
Yet, in practice, the surcharge might not matter much. Far from hobbling JPMorgan competitively, the regulatory regime has allowed it to operate with less capital than many of its peers. On Tuesday the bank reported an 11.4 per cent common equity ratio, now exceeding its reduced regulatory target of 11 per cent. The bank has about the same ratio as Bank of America and Citigroup, and is surpassed by Goldman Sachs at over 12 per cent and Morgan Stanley at 14. Not long ago chief executive Jamie Dimon would habitually boast about JPMorgan Chase’s “fortress balance sheet” — hardly a svelte image. But his attachment to the phrase has waned — he used it on earnings calls at least once a year from 2007 to 2013, according to Factset, and then stopped.