J.P. Morgan’s equity derivatives traders have generated roughly $1.5 billion in revenue so far this year, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who asked not to be identified because the numbers are confidential. That’s almost what J.P. Morgan reported from all equity markets businesses in last year’s first quarter — and at least twice what that derivatives desk usually earns, people familiar with the bank’s performance said.
It’s a snapshot of the way the coronavirus crisis is shifting fortunes on Wall Street. It also shows the intensity of the pace for employees who keep reporting to offices to navigate the turmoil. Some members of the derivatives desk could still be seen sitting closely together inside the bank’s Manhattan offices late last week, despite pleas from public health officials and the bank’s own leaders to help stop the spread of the deadly virus by keeping distance.
A bank spokesman declined to comment on the unit’s earnings. The company’s technicians have been working as fast as possible to move hardwired desks farther apart to ensure safety, a person with knowledge of the matter said.
The revenue boon from equity derivatives at JPMorgan and other Wall Street firms will help offset pain elsewhere. Bank stocks have plunged on expectations that low rates will crimp lending margins, plunging markets will weigh on some trading groups and wealth-management fees, and spiking unemployment will boost loan losses.