With few exceptions, U.S. banks have been reporting lower earnings and in some cases deeper losses for fourth quarter 2008. But they continued to lend during the period, too. JPMorgan Chase chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon reminded analysts during the bank’s quarterly earnings call: “[In] the press release we announced also that in the quarter we extended new credit of over $100 billion because there have been a lot of questions out there about whether banks are making loans. I think we’re speaking for lots of banks here, people are out making loans,” according to a transcript on Seeking.Alpha.com. “This quarter alone I think we did four million new credit cards, so we extended credit card loans, corporate loans, middle market loans, we bought a $1.4 billion bond issue when no one else would bid on it from Illinois.” Dimon noted that “in some businesses the loan demand is actually dropping rather dramatically.”

JPM Chase was also been active “in the interbank market; we have had on average $40 billion or $50 billion out and into the bank market,” Dimon observed. “So people ask are banks lending to each other, well I think some are and trying to help the system that way.” The CEO would not differentiate between extensions of credit agreements and new relationships, insisting that “renewals of credit are credit and I don’t want to get into the game to act like we’re obligated to renew credit all the time…but you will see us give some numbers like that, in middle market, large corporate, even our investment portfolio.” And Chase “probably bought more mortgage securities then the government did this quarter,” Dimon said.

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