While the executive branch checks out JPMorgan Chase & Co., President Obama has been doing some checking of his own.
One day after he described JPMorgan as "the best, or one of the best managed banks," the White House reported that the president holds up to $1 million in an interest-bearing JPMorgan asset management checking account, and Michelle Obama has up to $15,000 in a regular JPMorgan checking account.
The first family’s personal banking relationship with JPMorgan appeared on the president’s nine-page financial disclosure form for 2011, released by the White House Tuesday, and was also a feature of his disclosures for 2010. Obama’s assets are listed on a government-mandated form in broad brackets, making exact valuations for his holdings difficult to ascertain. The bracketed ranges for executive officials are set by law.
The president, appearing on ABC’s “The View” Tuesday, fielded questions about JPMorgan’s recent $2 billion in trading losses, and offered praise for a bank that has for years enjoyed a reputation for effective risk management, at least up until the point that it disclosed losses described by company Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon as “stupid.”
In the interview, Obama framed the bank’s trading mistakes as a potent argument for tough federal regulation following the 2008 financial meltdown, but he did not mention his family’s personal financial relationship with the bank.
Obama called Dimon “one of the smartest bankers we’ve got.” The blunt-speaking chief executive is a fallen-away Obama supporter who publicly parted company with some of the administration’s regulatory initiatives and its occasionally red-meat rhetoric about the behavior of big banks. Early in 2011, Obama turned to JPMorgan executive Bill Daley to become his second White House chief of staff; Daley left the White House and returned to Chicago within the year.