JPMorgan, Wells Fargo Offer Reality Check as Virus Mauls Profit
Comment of the Day

April 14 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

JPMorgan, Wells Fargo Offer Reality Check as Virus Mauls Profit

This article by Michelle F. Davis and Hannah Levitt for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“We haven’t actually seen the stress emerge,” she said on a call with analysts. “What we took in the first quarter was our best estimate of future losses.”

Banks also have to determine how many lending commitments will turn into funded loans as companies tap previously unused revolving credit facilities. Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf said commercial clients had tapped $80 billion of loan commitments just in March. JPMorgan said customers had drawn more than $50 billion of existing revolvers and were approved for $25 billion in new credit in March.

U.S. banks have maintained that they are much better positioned for this crisis than in 2008. JPMorgan’s key capital ratio was 11.5%, within its medium-term target range. Wells Fargo’s was 10.7%, above its internal target. Still, shares of both banks slipped in New York trading by 10:30 a.m. in New York as the broader market rose, with optimism the pandemic is slowing driving up the S&P 500 more than 2%.

“We like to be conservative in reserving,” Dimon said. “Plan for the worst so you can handle it.”

Eoin Treacy's view

The virus did not impact economic activity until about the middle of February for most countries, so 1st quarter earnings include 3 weeks at most of lockdown conditions for US companies. Ahead of the lockdowns economic activity was still expanding, after the lockdowns it will take time to recover but we won’t get 2nd quarter earnings until July. However, it is reasonable to conclude banks are going to be where some of the heaviest impacts from constraining consumer ability to service debt are going to hit.

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