It appears that JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) has tentatively agreed to a $13 billion payment to the Department of Justice to settle numerous investigations into the bank’s alleged sale of toxic mortgage-backed securities in the buildup to the global financial crisis of 2008.
The deal will see America’s biggest bank by assets, led by CEO Jamie Dimon, paying $9 billion in fines and $4 billion in relief to the consumers who were affected. Some commentators have been calling this the "cost of doing business," but that's appalling when you consider what else could be done with that amount of money.
JPMorgan could have paid off the foreign external debt of a whole host of countries, including Afghanistan, Palestine, Somalia, Libya, Iran, Ethiopia and about 108 other nations, potentially alleviating the strife, poverty and war that plague many of them.
Bought an S&P 500 company:
They could have bought any one of 207 S&P companies with a market cap below $13 billion. Among those choices would be Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE:BBY); the bottling arm of Coca-Cola Co, (NYSE:KO), for a cool $10.8 billion; and media giant News Corporation (NYSE:NWSA), for $9.3 billion.
According to American Student Assistance, student debt is sitting at $1 trillion, or $24,301 per student on average, and while the $13 billion fine may not have made much of a difference to wiping out the nation’s total, it would give 500,000 people some relief from those costs.
The U.S. poverty level was recently set at $23,550 per family, which means that 15 percent of Americans, or 46.5 million people, fall below that line, including 16 million children. Research from the National Center for Children in Poverty says that families need double the baseline poverty figure to cover basic expenses. $13 billion would lift 552,016 American families out of poverty.
Businesses have struggled since the global financial crisis as bank lending tightened. According to the Small Business Administration, the average small business loan is $337,730, so $13 billion would translate to 38,000 small business loans, creating jobs and driving the economy.