With no domestic economic news on the agenda today, investors seem to be focusing on the bigger picture, as fretting over China's slowdown causes an exodus from emerging market assets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is feeling the chill – opening low and sliding by 173 points as of noon EST.
Possibly adding to the general hand-wringing is the upcoming Federal Open Market Committee meeting, which convenes next Tuesday and will no doubt focus intently on the issue of additional tapering of the Fed's monetary easing program.
Big bank chiefs in the news
Both JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) are both down more than 1% at noon. Both banks' CEOs have been in the headlines this morning, as the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, continues to provide interview opportunities, and approaching annual meetings bring to the fore the issue of large paychecks for big bankers.
Lloyd Blankfein had quite a lot to say to CNBC this morning, noting that he's rooting for a rising U.S. economy, despite the performance of the stock market recently. As for emerging markets, the Goldman Sachs chief was chipper, saying that a long-term stake in that arena is the way to go. Over time, he said, "growth, education, (and) mobility" in these markets will present opportunities for investors.
In other news, Goldman is considering banning traders from using instant-messaging services, shortly after barring the use of online chat rooms. Chatting traders have become a focus of regulators lately, due to concerns about collusion in several interest rate-rigging scandals.
Jamie Dimon has hogged his share of headlines today as well. The JPMorgan chief has been handed a hefty raise by the bank's board of directors, in spite of the barrels of money the bank has paid out in fines over the past year.
According to The New York Times, supporters of the pay hike note that Dimon was instrumental in negotiating those settlements, putting several of the bank's messy legal hassles in the past. They also emphasize the substantial profits JPMorgan has made under his direction, noting that the bank's stock has risen by more than 20% over the past year.
With the Dow in the dumps, it's hard to tell whether investors agree. The stock is still down shortly before noon, but has picked up a bit in the last 30 minutes -- so, maybe JPMorgan's investors are just as enamored of Jamie Dimon as the bank's board of directors.