NY Attorney General Files Lawsuit Against JP Morgan Chase Over Bear Stearns Fraud

JP Morgan may be on the verge of the largest payment ever to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, at close to $1 billion, related to allegations that the bank manipulated electricity markets in California and the Midwest. The deal is not yet finalized, but the conversations highlight an increasingly aggressive stance taken by a little-known federal agency that oversees transmission lines, natural gas pipelines and the power trading markets that set utility bills for millions of businesses.” [Wall Street Journal]

Barclays, on the other hand, has said that it has no plans to pay FERC a record $470 million penalty for suspected manipulation of electricity markets in California and other states. “Barclays is the latest bank to experience the growing assertiveness of the commission, which has the authority to seek a penalty of up to $1 million for each day in which there is a violation of the rules intended to prevent manipulation of the energy market.” [New York Times]

And Quartz’s Steve LeVine posited that a narrowing of the Brent-WTI spread to less than $3.00 per barrel last week – the smallest gap between the two prices since December 2010 – cannot be explained by fundamentals or geopolitical risk. “Traders – having a mind and rationale entirely their own – have simply been very, very active in recent days,” wrote LeVine. “Their bet is getting riskier.”