Audit Notes: JPMorgan’s Whale, rent-a-quotes, shark videos

This New York Times story on JPMorgan’s regulators is not well edited, but it has some interesting reporting:

At one point in the first quarter of this year, some of the examiners said that JPMorgan had simply stopped providing them with some metrics from the chief investment office. When they asked why the crucial value-at-risk measure had disappeared, executives did not give them a satisfying answer.

Around that time, the bank changed the value-at-risk measure for the chief investment office, which they did not disclose publicly for months. The switch would prove important.

This morning, one-time press favorite Jamie Dimon’s bank reported that its CIO “tempest in a teapot” cost it $5.8 billion and that “the firm has recently discovered information that raises questions about the integrity of the trader marks and suggests that certain individuals may have been seeking to avoid showing the full amount of the losses in the portfolio.”

This could be big.

Mother Jones’s Kevin Drum makes a good point on how the press uses anecdotes with corporate-lobby ties without disclosing their political activism:

But don’t assume this is only the case for industry flacks. Suppose you need an anecdote about credit card fraud. Who ya gonna call? Consumer groups will be happy to hook you up with a fully vetted sob story. An anecdote about malpractice abuse? There are plenty of business groups that can put you in touch with a doctor who has an outrageous story to tell. Someone ripped off by a mortgage lender? You get the idea: just call a group that specializes in lobbying for tougher mortgage regulation. They’ve got plenty of examples.

Journalists like to talk a lot about ethics and transparency. But here’s a transparency rule I’d like to see: when you quote an alleged random man on the street, tell us how you found him. Did you really hoof around until you finally got what you wanted? Is he a friend of your cousin’s? Did you call an interest group and ask for someone? Did you ask for contacts via Twitter or Facebook? If reporters were required to tell us, I think you’d be surprised at how few of these random examples turn out to be truly random.

— Normally staid Bloomberg News tries to get a little Business Insider on us with this video, asking “Will This Shark Video Kill Summer Travel?”

I’m guessing “no.”

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,