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JPMorgan Trade Revives Bank Regulation Debate


It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Renee's in Afghanistan. I'm Steve Inskeep, good morning.

Maybe this is a sign of how big some banks really are. The head of JP Morgan Chase says that mysterious trading strategy that cost $2 billion in a matter of weeks won't really affect the bank's bottom line. However, that could possibly the trade has definitely affected the company's reputation. And it happened during a presidential campaign in which the economy and Wall Street are major themes.

Cokie Roberts is with us to talk politics, as she has most Mondays. Cokie, good morning.


INSKEEP: So what's the political affect of JP Morgan's embarrassment?

ROBERTS: Well, obviously people in Washington who think that banks need to be much more regulated are saying this is a perfect example of that, and that the lobbyist for the banks who are trying to drive big holes through the regulations are now being exposed. It gets to this whole question, Steve, of the role of government that we've been talking about all year. And those who think the government should be reining in these institutions have just gotten a whole lot more ammunition, as Jamie Dimon, the head of J.P. Morgan Chase himself said.

And, of course, the Democrats are pouncing on this to say you can't trust banks, you can't trust Wall Street, you can't just big business, and by extension you can't trust big business man Mitt Romney. In fact, the Obama campaign just this morning is putting out videos going after Romney's economic philosophy.

INSKEEP: Well, OK, you say they're pouncing. Democrats are pouncing. Is there any downside, though, to flogging Wall Street some more?

ROBERTS: Well, the president had a lot of support from the Wall Street crowd four years ago. And they also pulled out great big checkbooks for him, and now that has definitely eroded. Bill Daly, the president's former chief of staff, said recently that the businessmen thought this administration was their enemy. And Dimon yesterday said he is, quote, "barely a Democrat." He said he agrees with the values of an equitable society but that he found Democratic attacks on successful people, quote, "very counterproductive."

And, of course, that's the same Romney's been playing on. And Romney's hoping to get some of those Obama voters who agree with Dimon that, quote, "attacking that which creates things" is not the way to go. The problem for Romney is that while those folks might agree with him on economics, many would disagree with him on values, to use Dimon's term.

INSKEEP: Well, let's keep talking about values here. Mitt Romney, of course, has faced scrutiny from the left. He's faced scrutiny from the right. And over the weekend, a pretty dramatic moment. He goes to Liberty University - the University founded by Jerry Falwell, the late Jerry Falwell - and gave the graduation speech. And it's certainly a very critical crowd or at least a crowd that's listening closely, let's put it that way.

ROBERTS: Absolutely. And some of the students, according to reports, were upset that he was even invited to give this speech because he is a Mormon. And so this speech was more than a graduation speech. It was his religious definition speech, if you will, in the way that John Kennedy went to the Houston ministers and talked about his Catholicism. And Romney obliquely took on the fact that a lot of Christian evangelicals do not feel kindly towards Mormons.

He talked about, quote, "people of different faiths like yours and mine." But he said those people of different faiths could agree on Christian principles. And he told the graduates: God is always at our door and knocks for us. So it was a very explicitly religious speech and it got great enthusiastic response from the professional evangelical community.

The applause line, Steve, however, was marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.

INSKEEP: OK, thanks very much. Analysis on this Monday morning from Cokie Roberts once again. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Cokie Roberts was one of the 'Founding Mothers' of NPR who helped make that network one of the premier sources of news and information in this country. She served as a congressional correspondent at NPR for more than 10 years and later appeared as a commentator on Morning Edition. In addition to her work for NPR, Roberts was a political commentator for ABC News, providing analysis for all network news programming.