You may have read or heard in the news recently about JPMorgan's loss of $3 billion, which is likely to climb even higher. This is what you probably don't know:
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) had $15 billion in probably uncollectable European debt. It claims that it hedged this debt - that is, it invested in something that would increase in value if the European debt decreased in value - in order to offset those losses. However, what it actually did was to buy a credit default swap. A credit default swap is the same type of investment that caused AIG to have to be bailed out by our taxes, and it is basically the same thing JPM was supposed to be offsetting, so the losses were increased instead of being offset. JPM claims that they weren't really looking at the "hedge," and they took a $2 billion loss before they knew what was going on.
JPM could have sold the European debt if they really wanted to hedge the losses from it instead of putting even more money into the same investment. They also could have bought credit default swap protection. This would have offset the loss, because the protection would have increased in value as the European debt lost more money. Instead, JPM engaged in double speculation and lost even more money than if it had not bought the supposed hedge. According to William Black, associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and former senior U.S. financial regulator, the only reason JPM called the second investment a "hedge" is that it is illegal to speculate in the manner that they did.
How does this affect you? If you have a retirement account or mutual funds that were invested in JPM, you will lose money due to this behavior. And if JPM needs another bailout from the government, that's your money (and mine) they'll be getting.
The point of this post is not to bash JPM, though they certainly deserve it for this behavior. The point is that many people feel that it is immoral to file bankruptcy and not pay one's debts. For one thing, companies like JPM are the companies debtors owe their debts to. If JPM acts like this, why should you feel bad about filing bankruptcy when you can't pay your bills and need your income just to live? For another, if the richest people in the world act this way, why should you feel bad about getting out of debt to them?
If you cannot pay your bills, are in danger of foreclosure or repossession, or are doing things like draining your retirement in order to pay credit card debt, contact a bankruptcy lawyer today. It might be the smartest financial move you can make, and you don't have to feel guilty about doing it!