Who really pays?

The story linked from The New York Times details what could be a $13 billion settlement between JPMorgan Chase and the Justice Department. I guess the best news from this would be that $4 billion of the money would actually go to homeowners. (The other $9 billion being in fines paid to the government.) But who actually pays the $13 billion?

In the universal sense, the corporation pays the money. This may seem emotionally satisfying to many. But the reality is that we all pay. The bank’s customers are sure to see fee increases trickle down at some point to add to the bottom line, which will now need more top line. Another group taking a hit will be retirement fund investors who own any index mutual funds or ETFs mirroring the Dow Jones Industrial Average or S & P 500, which are the most popular of such funds. And any individual or group, including non-profits, that are JPMorgan Chase shareholders will lose. This is not exactly what I would call a feel-good story.


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