After losing billions, J.P. Chase chief: ‘We don’t gamble;’ Billy Walters might disagree

Jamie Dimon, chief executive of J.P. Chase & Morgan, the largest financial institution in the U.S., testified that his firm doesn’t gamble.

American investors might disagree.

Dimon was in charge during the multibillion-dollar investment losses that fueled an economic meltdown.

In testimony before the House Committee on Financial Services on Tuesday, Dimon explained the difference between gambling and investing to Rep. Gary Ackerman.

“I think when you gamble you usually lose to the house,” Dimon said.

Ackerman responded: “That’s been my general experience with investing.”

“I’d be happy to get you a better financial advisor,” Dimon added.

Las Vegas businessman Billy Walters thought he had the best financial advice around, when he invested millions in four publicly traded companies a decade or so ago. That didn’t turn out to be the case.

Walters, considered by many to be the most successful sports bettor ever, remains heavily involved in the stock market. But like a lot of American investors in today’s economic climate, he’s not exactly thrilled about it.

“I have a much bigger presence in the stock market than I do betting sports,” Walters said in a phone interview. “The only reason I do is, because it’s a much bigger market; you can play a lot higher. Betting on sporting events is a much cleaner, much more honest game than buying stocks. I can tell you that for sure.”

Walters says he lost $12 million on four publicly traded companies: Purchase Pro LLC, Enron Cooperation, WorldCom and Tyco.

“I relied on audited statements that were done by Big Six accounting firms,” he explained. “I relied on a board of directors that looked like a social registry of the United States. I relied on the SCC. I relied on all these analysts from all these brokerage firms. And everyone all said the same thing that these numbers were factual and had been checked and you could rely on them. I bought stock in them. I lost $12 million. And every one of them proved to be a fraud. People went to prison for them and everything else. The government didn’t give any money back from that. You just lost your money and that was that.”

[Wall Street Journal] [New York Times]

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