Mar 6, 2019

JPMorgan will no longer finance private prison operators

JPMorgan Chase building on Park Avenue in New York City.

Photo: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

JPMorgan Chase announced Tuesday that it will no longer finance operators of private prisons and detention centers.

Between the lines: It gave no explanation, except to say it has "a robust and well-established process to evaluate the sectors that we serve."

The big picture: This does not appear to be about financial deterioration of the sector. The two largest private prison operators to have been banked by JPMC — CoreCivic and GEO Group — have had fairly stable revenue and profits. Certainly there's nothing on the income statement to suggest much added credit risk and, despite political pressure from the left, the Trump administration remains an eager client.

Our thought bubble: That would lead us to think it's largely about PR (or in corporate marketing language, "social responsibility"). That contradicts what JPMC CEO Jamie Dimon told me on stage late last year, in regards to JPMC continuing to bank the Saudi government after Jamal Khashoggi's murder: "We will now abide by what the American government decides, not what JPMorgan decides."

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