Blythe Masters’ Pep Talk: ‘No One’s Going to Get Screwed’

“Don’t panic,” Blythe Masters told her employees in a 35-minute conference call recently obtained by Bloomberg news. The head of global commodities at JPMorgan—who developed the credit default swaps that Warren Buffett called “financial weapons of mass destruction”— was reponding to a spate of “extremely difficult” layoffs, resignations by “key people” and a dismal first half of the year.

“No one’s going to get screwed,” Ms. Masters said on tape. “We’re not going to do crazy things on compensation at the end of the year.”

The layoffs, a slim-down effort after JPMorgan bought parts of RBS Sempra Commodities, did not constitute “panicking,” Ms. Masters said. And the people who left willingly, according to her, simply made “very interesting career decisions.”

With a performance 20 percent below hopes, it was a bad first half of the year for the bank, but competitors, she said, are still “scared shitless of us.” Why? “Because this is a platform that’s going to win.”

The bank’s global commodities unit is, after all, “one of the boldest and gutsiest and ballsiest businesses that I’ve ever had the pleasure and privilege to work with.” It seems those adjectives could also be applied to Ms. Masters’ pep talks.

Blythe Masters’ Pep Talk: ‘No One’s Going to Get Screwed’