Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pierre Jovanovic’s New book on JP Morgan’s Blythe Masters Can Now be Ordered (in French) JPM

English to come. From Pierre's website:

Sortie mi-janvier 2011.
C'est mon premier livre qui concerne le présent et qui parle du futur. Les autres touchaient des manuscrits du passé, ou bien parlaient des Anges. Avec ce livre sur Blythe Masters, vous allez découvrir une autre sorte d'ange, un Ange tellement puissant qu'il peut ruiner n'importe quel pays du tiers monde en 30 secondes, juste en passant quelques coups de fil.
Blythe Masters est la femme la plus puissante vivant sur cette planète aujourd'hui. Sa célébrité dans le monde bancaire vient du fait qu'elle a reinventé les "credit default swap" qui ont transformé le papier en or, et dont l'usage intense par les banques a fini par ruiner Wall Street le 29 septembre 2008 tout en déclenchant la plus grande crise économique de l'Histoire moderne. Le Guardian de Londres l'a surnommée "La femme qui a inventé les armes financières de destruction massive".

Blythe Masters est le visage séduisant de la crise, celui que le grand public paradoxalement ne connaît pas. Pourtant, elle est le centre, le point fixe d'un système financier ruiné, obligé de se réinventer pour tenter de remonter la pente....
nouveau livre jovanovic sortie 2011 
HT: Max Keiser

Some of our posts on Ms. Masters:
"Woman Who Invented Credit Default Swaps is One of the Key Architects of Carbon Derivatives, Which Would Be at the Very CENTER of Cap and Trade"
I was struck by the irony that she would be running JPM's carbon trading ops at the same time she headed up the coal traders:
JPMorgan increases stake in China's Yanzhou Coal to 11.13% Loses Money on Coal Trade (JPM; YZC)
JP Morgan Buys MORE Yanzhou Coal, Upping Stake to 13.23% (JPM; YZC)

Was Alliance Bernstein Selling the Yanzhou Coal that JPMorgan was Buying? (YZC; JPM)

In October the Journal had a piece on Blythe:
J.P. Morgan Commodities Chief Takes the Heat
On July 21, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. investment-bank chief Jes Staley was on an airplane when he punched out an email to Blythe Masters, his embattled head of commodities.
"I will not give up on you and your vision," he wrote, reassuring her.

Mr. Staley's note came after a series of setbacks for Ms. Masters. One of J.P. Morgan's most powerful executives, the 41-year-old Ms. Masters is charged with turning around the commodities operation and building it into the biggest on Wall Street. And though the blunt executive has been given many resources, her division recently has suffered defections and miscues while falling far short of expectations in 2010.
"I think she is feeling a little heat," said a person close to her.

Barring a remarkable turnaround, commodities will end the year far behind a $1.78 billion revenue goal. Part of the problem was a loss on a bad coal bet in the second quarter. The third quarter improved, with a gain of about $154 million in revenue through Sept. 30. But commodities is up only about $189 million in revenue for the year, said a person familiar with the results.

That disappointing performance comes after a costly and bold effort to build the commodities division, one of the bank's biggest bets. Since 2008, the bank spent more than $2 billion buying commodities-trading operations, including Bear Stearns, parts of UBS Commodities and, most recently, assets from RBS Sempra Commodities in 2010.

Globally, trading of commodities has been rising for years, largely due to the expectations for higher demand for fuel and food from emerging markets. As a result, individual investors and hedge funds have included commodities in their portfolios as an asset class, and Wall Street firms have expanded their operations to cope with the demand.

The bank's push into commodities roiled a lucrative sector dominated by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley as J.P. Morgan poached executives from rivals and boosted its work force from roughly 125 in 2006 to 1,800 today. That makes the commodities desk the biggest on Wall Street that trades everything from power to silver.

Yet it remains trailing its top two rivals in market share. According to people familiar with the situation, the unit has duplicative systems and overlapping technical and support staff, despite 100 job cuts this year. Company executives, acknowledging the problems, are addressing them, the people say.
"The danger for J.P. Morgan is taking on a very high overhead which can hurt them if results fail to achieve goals," said George Stein, managing director of New York commodities executive-search firm Commodity Talent.

Falling short on goals will continue to attract scrutiny. If results dip below $1 billion in 2011 Mr. Staley intends to re-evaluate the business with Ms. Masters, said a person familiar with his thinking. In a statement, Mr. Staley said, "Blythe has built this business from the bottom up in only four years and today we have the scale to serve all of our clients' needs."

Ms. Masters has had a meteoric rise. Born in Oxford, England, she grew up in a family of means that lost money. Educated at Cambridge University's Trinity College, Ms. Masters started with the bank as an 18-year-old intern on the London commodities desk. While still in her 20s, she was among a team that sold regulators and investors on the use of newly invented credit-default swaps to shift risk off the bank's books. At 28 she became a managing director, the youngest woman to achieve that status in the firm's history.
Chief Executive James Dimon came to know Ms. Masters while she was chief financial officer of the investment bank from 2004 to 2006. Mr. Dimon, a numbers junkie, would meet with her regularly, and she proved that she had a grasp of details and could defend her positions forcefully, said a person who worked with both executives. He approved her appointment as head of commodities in late 2006 with instructions to reduce volatility in the group.

Revenues doubled between 2006 and 2009 as Ms. Masters increased the unit's reliance on client revenue over proprietary trading. A business that had a couple of hundred clients in 2006 now has 2,500.
Ms. Masters routinely became the face of J.P. Morgan in Washington, where she frequently represented the industry on everything from potential curbs on commodities trading to the financial regulatory overhaul. "I don't believe they could have sent a more thoughtful advocate," said Robert Holifield, staff director for Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln (D. Ark.)....MORE