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至暗时刻,这家美国最大的银行会倒下吗?

至暗时刻,这家美国最大的银行会倒下吗?

SHAWN TULLY 2020年10月18日
前路有众多未知风险。

杰米·戴蒙,摄于2019年。摄影:KENA BETANCUR/法新社经盖蒂图片社提供

10月13日收盘前,银行业巨头摩根大通公布的季度净收入为94亿美元,远超预期,在该银行的历史上排在第二位。其第三季度的净收入增长了4.4%,营业收入为291.5亿美元,比去年同期仅有小幅下滑。

华尔街的分析师曾预测其销售额会下降2%,利润减少12%。分析师认为,摩根大通要针对可能出现的贷款减记拨备大量资金,为了维持这笔支出,摩根大通将产生28亿美元信贷成本。而在前两个季度,该公司都没有预料到会出现这种情况。

事实上,摩根大通的准备金只有分析师预测金额的五分之一左右。这凸显出摩根大通财报和其电话会议中传达出的最重要的信息:随着经济超出预期的快速反弹,与几个月前相比,无论消费者还是大部分企业借款人的信用情况都有显著好转。但未来道路上是否潜伏着未知的灾难和风险,这还是一个巨大的未知数。

摩根大通CEO杰米·戴蒙在一份重磅声明中表示,到明年年底之前,信贷损失并不严重。

他说这主要是因为政府为家庭和企业提供了前所未有的援助,银行也推出了贷款延期还款计划,使本可能更早到来的贷款违约拖延了几个月。

摩根大通CFO詹妮弗·皮耶普扎克提供了一个粗略的时间线。她说:“2021年上半年,贷款拖欠率会有所上升,下半年会产生贷款冲销额。”

在被问到贷款冲销额的规模时,戴蒙和皮耶普扎克都拒绝就此进行预测。

戴蒙说,虽然更多财政刺激会“改善经济状况”,但到目前为止最大的影响因素是经济复苏的速度和持续时间,以及就业恢复速度。戴蒙表示,由于未来前景的不确定性,摩根大通在预估未来损失时所依据的情境,比美联储的“基准”数据更加消极。

美联储预测假设明年第四季度美国失业率依旧高居不下,达到7.7%,国民收入增长速度比去年低2.4%。

一个重要的积极因素是,摩根大通有充足的资本,即使在最糟糕的情境下,也能承受未来的损失并维持信贷流动。

事实上,摩根大通的状况表明,与金融危机爆发前相比,现在的贷款机构做好了更加充足的准备。

穆迪投资者服务公司的金融机构部门高级副总裁戴维·范格表示:“现在与当初的情况有着天壤之别。大银行在资本和流动性方面变得更加强大。他们的信贷储备远远超过了2008年经济周期中的水平。”

他补充说,美联储设定股息上限,并禁止股票回购,迫使银行只能储备现金,这进一步巩固了他们的资产负债表。另外一重保障是:新会计规则规定,如果贷款机构通过经济环境变化分析发现,其贷款未来可能变成坏账,贷款机构就需要为贷款整个生命周期中的所有预期损失拨备资金,而不是等到借款人停止还款时再采取行动。

戴蒙在预测消费者业务的命运时非常谨慎,因为消费者业务将决定摩根大通的未来盈利能力,但他的两段话证明他对未来持乐观的态度。

首先,他希望美联储能尽快取消对股票回购的限制,使“我们可以在股价大幅上涨之前进行回购。”这番话表明,戴蒙认为没有必要把以前积攒下来用于回购的收益,作为对未来损失的额外缓冲。

其次,他表示小心谨慎地度过疫情并不意味着会排除收购。戴蒙称摩根大通正在积极物色一家资产管理公司。他说:“我们的大门始终是敞开的。我们非常感兴趣。我们确信你们会看到,本行将进行业务整合。”

以下是摩根大通第三季度财报中的五个趋势。

交易和投资银行业务

摩根大通的盈利业务从消费者信贷这个最大的传统收入来源,转变到交易和资本市场,这令人非常震惊。

戴蒙一直主张,银行要整合那些会在不同时期兴起和衰落的业务,实行多样化经营。这成为摩根大通的一大优势,避免其陷入备受诟病的全能银行模式。在消费者业务出现萎缩的时候,这些华尔街主要业务的日益强大,正在支撑着摩根大通度过此次危机。

摩根大通的四大盈利业务之一企业和投资银行,净收入达到43亿美元,是2019年第三季度的三倍。最亮眼的当属交易业务,或者所谓的“市场业务”。债券、大宗商品和股权交易为摩根大通带来了近70亿美元收入,年比增长27%。在新IPO交易大幅增长的刺激下,投资银行业务的收入同样表现抢眼。

总体上而言,企业与投资银行业务为摩根大通贡献了46%的利润,较去年同期增长31%。

消费者贷款

消费者和社区银行业务的收入与利润均下滑了9%,收益减少42.5亿美元,只有38.7亿美元。该部门在摩根大通的利润占比从去年的一半左右下降至41%。该业务收入下滑有两个原因。

首先,疫情导致消费者的贷款需求大幅下降。过去一年,住房贷款、汽车贷款和信用卡业务的规模从3,840亿美元减少到3,320亿美元。

其次,普通贷款的利息收入减少,因为为了应对新冠疫情,美联储向市场中注入大量流动性,导致各类贷款的利率下降。第三季度的利息收入与去年同期相比减少了11亿美元,降幅高达13%。

但小企业贷款业务实现了增长,这主要得益于联邦政府的薪资保护计划。该计划为保留就业岗位的雇主提供贷款担保。在该计划的推动下,过去几个月,摩根大通向连锁餐厅和承包商等发放的贷款达到440亿美元。

信贷成本

摩根大通的财报中最令人意外的一点是,信贷成本在疫情期间一度达到历史高点,但后来却出人意料的下降,甚至低于经济形势良好时的水平。

信贷成本的大幅上涨和快速下降,部分原因是会计准则的根本性调整,改变了银行处理信贷支出的规则。在今年之前,贷款机构基本上需要根据贷款逾期的时间长度,记录信贷成本或“拨备资金”。所以当经济形势不佳时,随着越来越多客户停止还款,信贷成本每个季度都在增加。

但在2020年初,财务会计准则委员会推翻了旧的制度。该委员会规定,如果银行的模型预测其资产组合中的贷款在未来任何时间可能成为坏账,银行要为这些贷款拨备准备金,尽管房主或企业主仍在按时偿还贷款。当前预期信贷损失(CECL)的出台,恰逢疫情刚刚爆发的时候。

结果:在第一季度和第二季度,银行前期遭到严重影响,损失惨重。在以往的危机中,这些损失可能会被分散到多个季度。

摩根大通也不例外。

2019年,摩根大通的信贷损失约为每个季度15亿美元。汽车贷款、信用卡或小企业贷款违约的情况相对较少,这种温和的氛围令整个行业受益,这可以抵消低利率的影响,使银行业进入史上最好的一段时期。

在第一季度,全世界遭遇巨变,摩根大通根据CECL规则,为其认为可能出现的所有损失拨备了83亿美元。第二季度的前景更加暗淡,因此摩根大通再次拨备105亿美元。

在短短两个季度内,摩根大通承受的损失比2019年全年增多了六倍,其中三分之二来自消费者业务。受影响最大的是1,400亿美元的信用卡业务。

摩根大通在疫情最严重的时候,对未来损失的估算似乎非常准确。

第三季度,摩根大通记录的信贷损失是6.11亿美元,仅有第三季度的6%。消费者银行业务的信贷损失从58亿美元减少到7.94亿美元。摩根大通第二季度看起来一切正常但现在似乎会变成坏账的贷款,总损失约为12亿美元。该银行还“冲销”了到期的和借款人偿还的住房抵押贷款和企业信贷,这些资金变成了银行的收益。所以6.11亿美元的信贷成本实际上是CECL规则下的新拨备资金,以及银行认为会变成坏账,但客户已经偿还的贷款的净值,为银行带来了一笔意外之财。

未来

CECL规则旨在强制贷款机构评估未来的潜在损失。新规则为银行应对新冠疫情的冲击增加了一重保护。值得注意的是,摩根大通只有一小部分贷款逾期。

在4,380亿美元消费者贷款业务中,只有1.62%的住房贷款逾期30天以上,与去年同期相同,而信用卡业务的拒绝还款率为1.57%,远低于2019年9月的水平。出现这种情况的原因是到目前为止,更多人选择现金支付,或者还清了信用卡债务,而不是拖欠账单。

摩根大通根据CECL规则,在三个季度内计提了200亿美元信贷支出,它这样做有充分的理由。这些拨备资金表明,摩根大通的模型预测,该银行未来会减记同等规模的贷款。当然,拨备200亿美元所依据的假设是,在美联储的情境下,经济会进一步恶化。

戴蒙和皮耶普扎克在电话会议中表示,虽然汽车贷款和信用卡贷款的延期还款计划已经结束,但该银行仍允许280亿美元住房抵押贷款的客户延期还款。随着所有延期还款计划和财政援助计划到期,除非政府通过新的刺激计划,否则在2021年初,违约率必定会上升。

正如皮耶普扎克所说,这会导致明年下半年银行的贷款减记大幅增加。她还预测,受到新冠疫情的影响,航空公司、零售商、餐旅业和其他服务业会给银行带来麻烦。

但请记住,摩根大通已经提前拨备了200亿美元。除非在未来一两年,其消费者业务面临的压力,超过其对未来经济状况的保守预测,银行的贷款损失才有可能超过200亿美元。

一个重要的问题是,形势是否会继续恶化。

雄厚的准备金

值得注意的是,现在摩根大通已经有足够多的准备金,作为应对未来损失的缓冲,而且这家银行仍有源源不断的收入,远高于它预留的准备金。

但这种趋势能否延续下去?

摩根大通目前应对未来贷款损失的准备金有340亿美元,比今年年初增加了200亿美元,增幅高达142%。

戴蒙在电话会议中表示,如果经济复苏符合基准情景,摩根大通的准备金将有100亿美元过剩。收回准备金能大幅提高未来利润。

摩根大通有雄厚的准备金和强大的盈利能力,一旦形势恶化,它可以增加准备金,并且依旧可以有丰厚的利润。

戴蒙在电话会议上指出,在第三季度发放25亿美元股息和支付贷款损失拨备之后,摩根大通仍有70亿美元额外收入。这些收入充实了资本,为应对未来的信贷损失提供了更强有力的保障。

摩根大通不会像金融危机时一样,遭遇当时银行所面临的困境。但如果美国陷入长期失业的泥潭,摩根大通需要根据CECL规则增加拨备,而且贷款增长会日趋放慢,这会使其利润低于去年的黄金时期,甚至不及上个季度。

华尔街当然没有被摩根大通的业绩说服。摩根大通公布第二季度强劲的财报之后,股价下跌了1.6%,其市盈率倍数只有13。

惠誉评级分析师克里斯·沃尔夫提醒投资者要小心谨慎。

他说:“现在银行的状况比全球金融危机的时候要好的多。他们应该有足够的准备金,可以顺利进入2021年。但现在要预测银行的准备金在本轮经济周期中是否充足,仍为时尚早。我们必须看到新冠疫情防控工作能否取得进展,以及就业数据的具体表现。”

到目前为止,摩根大通依旧非常小心翼翼,并且仍有强大的盈利能力。(财富中文网)

翻译:刘进龙

审校:汪皓

编辑:徐晓彤

杰米·戴蒙,摄于2019年。摄影:KENA BETANCUR/法新社经盖蒂图片社提供

10月13日收盘前,银行业巨头摩根大通公布的季度净收入为94亿美元,远超预期,在该银行的历史上排在第二位。其第三季度的净收入增长了4.4%,营业收入为291.5亿美元,比去年同期仅有小幅下滑。

华尔街的分析师曾预测其销售额会下降2%,利润减少12%。分析师认为,摩根大通要针对可能出现的贷款减记拨备大量资金,为了维持这笔支出,摩根大通将产生28亿美元信贷成本。而在前两个季度,该公司都没有预料到会出现这种情况。

事实上,摩根大通的准备金只有分析师预测金额的五分之一左右。这凸显出摩根大通财报和其电话会议中传达出的最重要的信息:随着经济超出预期的快速反弹,与几个月前相比,无论消费者还是大部分企业借款人的信用情况都有显著好转。但未来道路上是否潜伏着未知的灾难和风险,这还是一个巨大的未知数。

摩根大通CEO杰米·戴蒙在一份重磅声明中表示,到明年年底之前,信贷损失并不严重。

他说这主要是因为政府为家庭和企业提供了前所未有的援助,银行也推出了贷款延期还款计划,使本可能更早到来的贷款违约拖延了几个月。

摩根大通CFO詹妮弗·皮耶普扎克提供了一个粗略的时间线。她说:“2021年上半年,贷款拖欠率会有所上升,下半年会产生贷款冲销额。”

在被问到贷款冲销额的规模时,戴蒙和皮耶普扎克都拒绝就此进行预测。

戴蒙说,虽然更多财政刺激会“改善经济状况”,但到目前为止最大的影响因素是经济复苏的速度和持续时间,以及就业恢复速度。戴蒙表示,由于未来前景的不确定性,摩根大通在预估未来损失时所依据的情境,比美联储的“基准”数据更加消极。

美联储预测假设明年第四季度美国失业率依旧高居不下,达到7.7%,国民收入增长速度比去年低2.4%。

一个重要的积极因素是,摩根大通有充足的资本,即使在最糟糕的情境下,也能承受未来的损失并维持信贷流动。

事实上,摩根大通的状况表明,与金融危机爆发前相比,现在的贷款机构做好了更加充足的准备。

穆迪投资者服务公司的金融机构部门高级副总裁戴维·范格表示:“现在与当初的情况有着天壤之别。大银行在资本和流动性方面变得更加强大。他们的信贷储备远远超过了2008年经济周期中的水平。”

他补充说,美联储设定股息上限,并禁止股票回购,迫使银行只能储备现金,这进一步巩固了他们的资产负债表。另外一重保障是:新会计规则规定,如果贷款机构通过经济环境变化分析发现,其贷款未来可能变成坏账,贷款机构就需要为贷款整个生命周期中的所有预期损失拨备资金,而不是等到借款人停止还款时再采取行动。

戴蒙在预测消费者业务的命运时非常谨慎,因为消费者业务将决定摩根大通的未来盈利能力,但他的两段话证明他对未来持乐观的态度。

首先,他希望美联储能尽快取消对股票回购的限制,使“我们可以在股价大幅上涨之前进行回购。”这番话表明,戴蒙认为没有必要把以前积攒下来用于回购的收益,作为对未来损失的额外缓冲。

其次,他表示小心谨慎地度过疫情并不意味着会排除收购。戴蒙称摩根大通正在积极物色一家资产管理公司。他说:“我们的大门始终是敞开的。我们非常感兴趣。我们确信你们会看到,本行将进行业务整合。”

以下是摩根大通第三季度财报中的五个趋势。

交易和投资银行业务

摩根大通的盈利业务从消费者信贷这个最大的传统收入来源,转变到交易和资本市场,这令人非常震惊。

戴蒙一直主张,银行要整合那些会在不同时期兴起和衰落的业务,实行多样化经营。这成为摩根大通的一大优势,避免其陷入备受诟病的全能银行模式。在消费者业务出现萎缩的时候,这些华尔街主要业务的日益强大,正在支撑着摩根大通度过此次危机。

摩根大通的四大盈利业务之一企业和投资银行,净收入达到43亿美元,是2019年第三季度的三倍。最亮眼的当属交易业务,或者所谓的“市场业务”。债券、大宗商品和股权交易为摩根大通带来了近70亿美元收入,年比增长27%。在新IPO交易大幅增长的刺激下,投资银行业务的收入同样表现抢眼。

总体上而言,企业与投资银行业务为摩根大通贡献了46%的利润,较去年同期增长31%。

消费者贷款

消费者和社区银行业务的收入与利润均下滑了9%,收益减少42.5亿美元,只有38.7亿美元。该部门在摩根大通的利润占比从去年的一半左右下降至41%。该业务收入下滑有两个原因。

首先,疫情导致消费者的贷款需求大幅下降。过去一年,住房贷款、汽车贷款和信用卡业务的规模从3,840亿美元减少到3,320亿美元。

其次,普通贷款的利息收入减少,因为为了应对新冠疫情,美联储向市场中注入大量流动性,导致各类贷款的利率下降。第三季度的利息收入与去年同期相比减少了11亿美元,降幅高达13%。

但小企业贷款业务实现了增长,这主要得益于联邦政府的薪资保护计划。该计划为保留就业岗位的雇主提供贷款担保。在该计划的推动下,过去几个月,摩根大通向连锁餐厅和承包商等发放的贷款达到440亿美元。

信贷成本

摩根大通的财报中最令人意外的一点是,信贷成本在疫情期间一度达到历史高点,但后来却出人意料的下降,甚至低于经济形势良好时的水平。

信贷成本的大幅上涨和快速下降,部分原因是会计准则的根本性调整,改变了银行处理信贷支出的规则。在今年之前,贷款机构基本上需要根据贷款逾期的时间长度,记录信贷成本或“拨备资金”。所以当经济形势不佳时,随着越来越多客户停止还款,信贷成本每个季度都在增加。

但在2020年初,财务会计准则委员会推翻了旧的制度。该委员会规定,如果银行的模型预测其资产组合中的贷款在未来任何时间可能成为坏账,银行要为这些贷款拨备准备金,尽管房主或企业主仍在按时偿还贷款。当前预期信贷损失(CECL)的出台,恰逢疫情刚刚爆发的时候。

结果:在第一季度和第二季度,银行前期遭到严重影响,损失惨重。在以往的危机中,这些损失可能会被分散到多个季度。

摩根大通也不例外。

2019年,摩根大通的信贷损失约为每个季度15亿美元。汽车贷款、信用卡或小企业贷款违约的情况相对较少,这种温和的氛围令整个行业受益,这可以抵消低利率的影响,使银行业进入史上最好的一段时期。

在第一季度,全世界遭遇巨变,摩根大通根据CECL规则,为其认为可能出现的所有损失拨备了83亿美元。第二季度的前景更加暗淡,因此摩根大通再次拨备105亿美元。

在短短两个季度内,摩根大通承受的损失比2019年全年增多了六倍,其中三分之二来自消费者业务。受影响最大的是1,400亿美元的信用卡业务。

摩根大通在疫情最严重的时候,对未来损失的估算似乎非常准确。

第三季度,摩根大通记录的信贷损失是6.11亿美元,仅有第二季度的6%。消费者银行业务的信贷损失从58亿美元减少到7.94亿美元。摩根大通第二季度看起来一切正常但现在似乎会变成坏账的贷款,总损失约为12亿美元。该银行还“冲销”了到期的和借款人偿还的住房抵押贷款和企业信贷,这些资金变成了银行的收益。所以6.11亿美元的信贷成本实际上是CECL规则下的新拨备资金,以及银行认为会变成坏账,但客户已经偿还的贷款的净值,为银行带来了一笔意外之财。

未来

CECL规则旨在强制贷款机构评估未来的潜在损失。新规则为银行应对新冠疫情的冲击增加了一重保护。值得注意的是,摩根大通只有一小部分贷款逾期。

在4,380亿美元消费者贷款业务中,只有1.62%的住房贷款逾期30天以上,与去年同期相同,而信用卡业务的拒绝还款率为1.57%,远低于2019年9月的水平。出现这种情况的原因是到目前为止,更多人选择现金支付,或者还清了信用卡债务,而不是拖欠账单。

摩根大通根据CECL规则,在三个季度内计提了200亿美元信贷支出,它这样做有充分的理由。这些拨备资金表明,摩根大通的模型预测,该银行未来会减记同等规模的贷款。当然,拨备200亿美元所依据的假设是,在美联储的情境下,经济会进一步恶化。

戴蒙和皮耶普扎克在电话会议中表示,虽然汽车贷款和信用卡贷款的延期还款计划已经结束,但该银行仍允许280亿美元住房抵押贷款的客户延期还款。随着所有延期还款计划和财政援助计划到期,除非政府通过新的刺激计划,否则在2021年初,违约率必定会上升。

正如皮耶普扎克所说,这会导致明年下半年银行的贷款减记大幅增加。她还预测,受到新冠疫情的影响,航空公司、零售商、餐旅业和其他服务业会给银行带来麻烦。

但请记住,摩根大通已经提前拨备了200亿美元。除非在未来一两年,其消费者业务面临的压力,超过其对未来经济状况的保守预测,银行的贷款损失才有可能超过200亿美元。

一个重要的问题是,形势是否会继续恶化。

雄厚的准备金

值得注意的是,现在摩根大通已经有足够多的准备金,作为应对未来损失的缓冲,而且这家银行仍有源源不断的收入,远高于它预留的准备金。

但这种趋势能否延续下去?

摩根大通目前应对未来贷款损失的准备金有340亿美元,比今年年初增加了200亿美元,增幅高达142%。

戴蒙在电话会议中表示,如果经济复苏符合基准情景,摩根大通的准备金将有100亿美元过剩。收回准备金能大幅提高未来利润。

摩根大通有雄厚的准备金和强大的盈利能力,一旦形势恶化,它可以增加准备金,并且依旧可以有丰厚的利润。

戴蒙在电话会议上指出,在第三季度发放25亿美元股息和支付贷款损失拨备之后,摩根大通仍有70亿美元额外收入。这些收入充实了资本,为应对未来的信贷损失提供了更强有力的保障。

摩根大通不会像金融危机时一样,遭遇当时银行所面临的困境。但如果美国陷入长期失业的泥潭,摩根大通需要根据CECL规则增加拨备,而且贷款增长会日趋放慢,这会使其利润低于去年的黄金时期,甚至不及上个季度。

华尔街当然没有被摩根大通的业绩说服。摩根大通公布第二季度强劲的财报之后,股价下跌了1.6%,其市盈率倍数只有13。

惠誉评级分析师克里斯·沃尔夫提醒投资者要小心谨慎。

他说:“现在银行的状况比全球金融危机的时候要好的多。他们应该有足够的准备金,可以顺利进入2021年。但现在要预测银行的准备金在本轮经济周期中是否充足,仍为时尚早。我们必须看到新冠疫情防控工作能否取得进展,以及就业数据的具体表现。”

到目前为止,摩根大通依旧非常小心翼翼,并且仍有强大的盈利能力。(财富中文网)

翻译:刘进龙

审校:汪皓

编辑:徐晓彤

Before the market close on Oct. 13, the banking colossus smashed expectations by announcing $9.4 billion in net income, the second-highest quarterly number in its history. That's a 4.4% gain over Q3 on $29.15 billion in revenues that slipped just a hair from last year. Wall Street analysts were forecasting a 2% fall in sales and 12% drop in profits, the latter driven by another big slug of provisions to cover future loan losses. The analysts reckoned that JPMorgan would book $2.8 billion in credit costs to bolster its reserves for looming write-downs that it hadn't seen coming in the previous two quarters.

As it turned out, JPMorgan took around one-fifth of the predicted provisions. That underscores the most important takeaway from the release and conference call: The consumer and even most corporate borrowers are looking like much better credits than a few months ago as the economy rebounds faster than expected. The big unknown is whether the meltdown that appeared to be around the corner is lurking down the road.

In one of his most noteworthy statements, CEO Jamie Dimon declared that credit losses will remain mild until late next year. He says that's mostly because the government's unprecedented aid to families and businesses, and the banks' forbearance programs, have delayed defaults for months that would have come far earlier. CFO Jennifer Piepszak provided a rough timeline. "We'll see delinquencies pick up in the early part of 2021, and charge-offs will come in the back half," she said.

Asked to put a number on how big those charge-offs could be a year hence, Dimon and Piepszak declined to even venture a guess. Dimon said that although more rounds of stimulus would "improve the picture," by far the biggest factor is the pace and durability of the recovery and how fast lost jobs return. Because the outlook is so uncertain, Dimon said, JPMorgan is basing its estimates of future losses on a scenario that's lot more negative than the Federal Reserve's "base case" numbers that forecast positing an stubbornly high unemployment rate of 7.7% in Q4 of next year, and national income running 2.4% below last year's levels.

The big positive is that JPMorgan has plenty of capital to withstand future losses and keep credit flowing, even in the direst of scenarios. In fact, its position epitomizes how much better fortified lenders are today than at the dawn of the financial crisis. "It's night and day," says David Fanger, SVP of the financial institutions group at Moody's Investors Service. "The big banks are far stronger in capital and liquidity. They're holding much bigger credit reserves than at this point in the cycle in 2008." He adds that the Fed-imposed cap on dividends and prohibition on share buybacks is forcing them to hoard cash that further buttresses their balance sheets. Another safeguard: New accounting rules requiring lenders to take all anticipated losses, over the entire life of their loans, not when they stop paying, but when analysis of shifts in the economic climate show they're likely to go bad in the future.

Despite his caution on forecasting the fate of the consumer who will determine the bank's future profitability, Dimon made two observations that showed optimism. First, he hopes that the Fed will lift restrictions on stock buybacks soon so that "we're allowed to do it before the stock is much higher." That comment suggests Dimon sees no need to keep accumulating earnings previously spent on repurchases as an additional buffer for future losses. Second, he revealed that prudently navigating the pandemic doesn't rule out acquisitions. Dimon revealed that JPMorgan is in the market for an asset manager. "Our doors and telephone lines are wide open," he said. "We'd be very interested. We do think you will see consolidation in the business."

Here are five trends that stood out in the Q3 report.

Trading and investment banking

The shift in JPMorgan’s profitability from the biggest traditional source, the consumer, to trading and capital markets, is nothing short of astounding. The much-criticized universal bank model is demonstrating what Dimon always claimed was a big plus, that it offers broad diversification by uniting businesses that rise and fall at different times. The waxing in those Wall Street staples as the results in consumer wane is what's supporting JPMorgan in the crisis.

The corporate & investment bank, one of the four major profit centers, posted net income of $4.3 billion, triple the figure in Q3 of 2019. The star was trading, or what's called "markets." Bond, commodity, and equity trading combined garnered nearly $7 billion in revenue, up 27% year over year. Investment banking revenues, propelled by the surge in new IPOs, were also extremely strong. All told, the C&I segment accounted for 46% of JPMorgan’s profits, up 31% in the year-ago period.

Consumer lending

In consumer & community banking, revenues and profits both retreated by 9%, with earnings falling $4.25 billion to $3.87 billion. That shrank the segment's share of total profits from around half through all of last year to 41%. The reason for the pullback is twofold. First, the pandemic has pummeled demand for consumer loans. In the past year, the combined portfolio for home, auto, and credit cards has fallen from $384 billion to $332 billion. Second, the interest collected on the average loan shrank as the Fed flooded the markets with liquidity to counter the COVID crisis, shrinking rates across the entire spectrum of lending. Interest income dropped by $1.1 billion or 13% in Q3, versus Q3 of last year.

An exception to the retreat was a jump in lending to small businesses driven by the federal Payroll Protection Program that guaranteed loans to employers that kept their workers employed. The initiative doubled JPMorgan's portfolio to the likes of restaurant chains and contractors to $44 billion in the past several months.

Credit costs

The report's most astounding feature is the unexpected drop in credit costs from crisis heights to below where they stand even in good periods. The shift from a sharp spike and steep fall are partly explained by a radical change in the accounting standards that dictate how banks must treat credit expense. Until this year, lenders booked credit costs, called "provisions," mostly based on the length of time loans were delinquent. So in a bad economy, as more and more customers stopped paying, the credit costs would keep mounting quarter after quarter.

But at the start of 2020, the Financial Accounting Standards Board overturned the old regime. FASB stipulated that banks take a hit on all loans on their portfolio that the bank's models forecast will go bad at any time in the future, even if the home or business owner was still paying right on time. The arrival of Current Expected Credit Loss provision, or CECL, coincided with the onset of the pandemic. The upshot: Banks took gigantic losses in Q1 and Q2 in a big, upfront wallop that, in past crises, they'd have parceled out over many quarters.

JPMorgan was no exception. In 2019, its credit losses were running at roughly $1.5 billion a quarter. The entire industry was benefiting from a balmy climate where relatively few car, credit card, or small-business loans were going into default, a benefit that countered the drag of low rates and brought one of the best runs in banking history. When the world changed in Q1, JPMorgan followed the CECL guidelines by taking a $8.3 billion blow for all the losses it saw coming. Then when the outlook turned darker in Q2, it took another $10.5 billion in provisions. In just two quarters, JPMorgan absorbed a blow that was six times bigger than the total damage for 2019, with two-thirds coming on the consumer side. Hardest hit was the $140 billion credit card portfolio.

It appears that JPMorgan did a good job estimating those future losses during the depths of the crisis. In Q3, the bank registered credit losses of just $611 million, 6% of the figure in Q2. In the consumer bank, the number dropped from $5.8 billion to $794 million. Overall, JPMorgan registered around $1.2 billion in losses on loans that looked all right in Q2 but that it now deemed would go bad. It also took "reversals" for mortgages and corporate credits that came due, and that borrowers paid back, money that flowed back into earnings. So the cost of $611 million is actually the net of the new hit from CECL, and the loans it reckoned were going bad, but that customers repaid, providing a kind of windfall.

The future

CECL is forcing lenders to assess potential losses far into the future. The new rules have provided added shelter against the COVID hurricane. What's remarkable is that so far, JPMorgan is seeing a tiny fraction of its loans go delinquent. In the $438 billion consumer portfolio, only 1.62% of home loans are 30 or more days past due, the same fraction as a year ago, and in cards, the nonpayment rate of 1.57% is well below the mark in September 2019. The reason: So far, more people have been paying down or retiring their card balances than are falling behind.

JPMorgan has followed CECL by taking $20 billion in upfront credit expense in just three quarters for good reason. Those provisions signal that its models predict that it will actually write off that dollar amount in loans in future quarters. Of course, that $20 billion hit assumes an economy much worse than under the Fed scenario. On the conference call, Dimon and Piepszak cited that although forbearance has ended for auto and card loans, it's still allowing customers with $28 billion in mortgages to defer payments. As all the deferrals programs run out, and aid from the stimulus fades—unless a new one is forthcoming—defaults will inevitably rise starting in 2021, and as Piepszak noted, lead to a surge in actual charge-offs late in the year. She's also expecting trouble from airlines, retailers, hospitality, and other service sectors roiled by the pandemic.

But keep in mind, JPMorgan has already taken the $20 billion hit upfront. For the bank to face more loan losses, the consumer will have to suffer far more stress over the next year or two than shown under its conservative projections for the economy's future. The big question is whether things will get that much worse.

Deep reserves

Right now, it's remarkable that JPMorgan has managed to build a thick cushion against future losses and still generate substantial earnings over and above what it's putting aside. But can that trend continue? JPMorgan now holds $34 billion in reserves for future loan losses, a $20 billion or 142% increase from the start of the year. On the call, Dimon said that if the recovery tracks the base case scenario, JPMorgan will have $10 billion in excess reserves that it won't need. Recouping reserves would provide a big lift to future profits.

What JPMorgan has going for it is a combination of gigantic reserves and big earnings power that would enables it to swell its reserves if things get much worse, and still have plenty of profit left over. On the call, Dimon pointed out that after paying the regular $2.5 billion dividend and covering loan loss provisions in Q3, JPMorgan booked $7 billion in extra earnings that it added to capital, providing a stronger bulwark for future credit losses.

JPMorgan's in no danger of getting in the same kind of trouble that crippled banks in the great financial crisis. Still, if the U.S. enters a period of grinding long-lasting unemployment, it could still take more CECL hits—as well as suffer from flagging loan growth—that could make it a lot less profitable than in last year's golden days, or even in the last quarter. Wall Street certainly isn't convinced. The bank's share price fell 1.6% following the strong Q2 report, and its price/earnings ratio is languishing at a paltry 13.

Chris Wolfe, an analyst for Fitch Ratings, sounds a note of caution. "The banks are significantly better off than in the global financial crisis," he says. "They should be well-reserved through into 2021. But it's too early to tell how adequate their reserves are over the cycle. We'll have to see the progress in containing the pandemic, and see how the employment data rolls in."

So far, JPMorgan is proceeding with extreme caution—and still making plenty of money.

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