I’ve very much enjoyed reading all the articles in the mainstream media about JPM’s Bruno Iksil. Mr. Iksil has, according to those reports, earned himself a very cool nickname as the “London Whale” by making some massive CDS plays. Some folks, I think unfairly, are calling him Voldemort.
I have to confess I was a little disappointed to read in the WSJ this morning that Iksil has apparently ceased and desisted from making further bets presumably due to widespread negative reactions in the marketplace and increased attention from regulators or maybe he was just finished executing whatever his hedging strategy is–I have no idea. Personally, I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. In free markets, market participants are or ought be allowed to take any positions they like and others should be completely free to do the same, even if some of them happen to drive the markets lower or higher–as long as they are not acting as part of some deliberately manipulative scheme.
Apparently, not everyone feels the same way. Indeed, the WSJ quotes one would be Captain Ahab as saying “‘I view the entire market as a chess match playing against this guy….’” According to Bloomberg, various politicians and others have also waded into the fray expressing concerns, among other things, about the potential impotence of the Volcker Rule.
To me this all seems like much ado about nothing. I hope that all the would be Captain Ahabs of the world keep in mind that messing with Moby Dick doesn’t usually end well. Sometimes, it’s better not to pursue the whale to the ends of the Earth.