The trading losses suffered by JPMorgan Chase have surged in recent days, surpassing the bank’s initial $2 billion estimate by at least $1 billion, according to people with knowledge of the losses.
When Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s chief executive, announced the losses last Thursday, he indicated they could double within the next few quarters. But that process has been compressed into four trading days as hedge funds and other investors take advantage of JPMorgan’s distress, fueling faster deterioration in the underlying credit market positions held by the bank.
A spokeswoman for the bank declined to comment, although Mr. Dimon has said the total paper trading losses will be volatile depending on day-to-day market fluctuations.
The Federal Reserve is examining the scope of the growing losses and the original bet, along with whether JPMorgan’s chief investment office took risks that were inappropriate for a federally insured depository institution, according to several people with knowledge of the examination. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is still under way.
The overall health of the bank remains strong, even with the additional losses, and JPMorgan has been able to increase its stock dividend faster than its rivals because of stronger earnings and a more solid capital buffer.
Still, the huge trading losses rocked Wall Street and reignited the debate over how tightly giant financial institutions should be regulated. Bank analysts say that while the bank’s stability is not threatened, if the losses continue to mount, the outlook for the bank’s dividend will grow uncertain.
The bank’s leadership has discussed the impact of the losses on future earnings, although a dividend cut remains highly unlikely for now. In March, the company raised the quarterly dividend by 5 cents, to 30 cents, which will cost the bank about $190 million more this quarter.
A spokeswoman for the bank said a dividend cut has not been discussed internally.
At the bank’s annual meeting in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, Mr. Dimon did not definitively rule out cutting the dividend, although he said that he “hoped” it would not be cut.
John Lackey, a shareholder from Richmond, Va., who attended the meeting precisely to ask about the dividend, was not reassured. “That wasn’t a very clear answer,” he said of Mr. Dimon’s response. “I expect that shareholders are going to suffer because of this.”
Analysts expect the bank to earn $4 billion in the second quarter, factoring in the original estimated loss of $2 billion. Even if the additional trading losses were to double, the bank could still earn a profit of $2 billion.