You guys, Master of the Universe Jamie Dimon is upset and stuff.
Jamie Dimon, grappling with multibillion-dollar legal costs and rising capital requirements at JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), lashed out at U.S. regulators for putting his bank “under assault.”
“We have five or six regulators or people coming after us on every different issue,” Dimon, 58, said today on a call with reporters after New York-based JPMorgan reported fourth-quarter results. “It’s a hard thing to deal with.”
Other “hard things to deal with” may also include the near total implosion of the global economy caused by Jaime Dimon’s bank in 2008.
Dimon, who was lauded during the crisis for JPMorgan’s role in buying Bear Stearns Cos. and Washington Mutual Inc.’s bank units, has criticized the government for penalizing JPMorgan for those firms’ actions.
The bank settled foreign-exchange investigations with three regulators in November, paying about $1 billion, and still faces a Justice Department probe.
“In the old days, you dealt with one regulator when you had an issue, maybe two,” said Dimon, 58. “Now it’s five or six. It makes it very difficult and very complicated. You all should ask the question about how American that is. And how fair that is. And how complex that is for companies.”
YOU GUYS KEEP PICKING ON HIM. I mean sure, the guillotines are a nice touch and all, but he has feelings too ya know. The best part is that the new GOP Congress completely agrees with him. There are just too many regulators bothering Jamie Dimon dammit, and we need to put a stop to it.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), is called the Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens Act, but its name obscures what it would actually do. The legislation is a compilation of deregulatory bills that failed to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate in the last Congress. It would alter nearly a dozen provisions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, loosening regulation of Wall Street banks.
That seems useful, right?
Last week, House Republicans tried to force Fitzpatrick’s bill through the House using a procedure typically used for uncontroversial bills or technical fixes. This process, known as fast-tracking, requires the bill to receive a yes vote from two-thirds of the chamber, or at least 290 members. But on Friday, just 276 of the 435 members of the House voted for the measure—well short of the two-thirds majority required. Now GOP leaders have resurrected the bill, and will push it through under the normal rules, which require just a simple majority. The bill is expected to pass the House easily, although it’s unclear whether the Senate would approve it. President Barack Obama would likely veto it. But GOPers could force the legislation into law by attaching bits of it to must-pass bills—such as spending legislation—later this year.
You’ll be seeing a lot of that “attaching to must-pass bills” trick over the next two years, I think.
Perhaps “SIX REGULATORY AGENCIES!!!!” is just an indicator of the staggering number and breadth of laws they broke?
““In the old days, you dealt with one regulator when you had an issue, maybe two,”
Well yeah, in the old days banks dealt with one, maybe two financial areas, whereas now they’re vampire squids with their tentacles in everything- derivatives, energy, commodities, lending, trading. Efficiency! Synergy! AIN’T INTEGRATION A BITCH, JAMIE?
Stop stealing shit, then. Problem solved.
“We have to deal with six regulatory agencies” -> “The number and breadth of the laws we’ve broken is staggering”
Even the world’s tiniest violin refuses to sound a sympathetic note.
I just got a puppy, and this is how he perceives discipline right now. If he shapes up and stops chewing shit, the heavy handed regulator (me) will go away.
Someone explain this to Dimon.
ETA: please tell me he’s not the guy kicking the shit out of his dog in the elevator. That would make so much sense if he were.
Back in 2005 I had a Bank One account. They were bought out by Chase sometime thereafter, and I thought no biggie, one asshole just swallowed another. Then the crisis hit, and even worse, Mr Dimon announces obscene profits and gets an absolutely outrageous bonus not six months thereafter. The day I heard that I went straight to the local branch and closed my account. Told the exit interviewer there exactly why – words that amounted to while I hold nothing against you grunts in the trenches, your CEO/higher-ups are jackoffs and this kind of mentality is why our country is so horribly screwed. Moved my money to a credit union and was asked why I switched, explained the whole situation about Chase and the new account girl just shrugged and said she’d never heard of anyone doing that before. She seemed honestly puzzled what the issue was.
The MOTU have the lot of us brainwashed good.
I saw a stat recently, something like “for every person working in the financial sector there is a drain of X on the economy.” Can’t remember where I saw that! Anyone?
Point was that the financial sector at that level is a net drain on the overall economy.
“But GOPers could force the legislation into law by attaching bits of it to must-pass bills—such as spending legislation—later this year.”
Thanks to all the folks who were too busy or careless to vote in November 2014. Looks like we’re in for two years of fun.
You’re probably thinking of that series that ran in the Post a few weeks ago. See here for a relevant part.
Of course it would help if you and your trader minions were operating massive confidence games in the Casino. Somehow, the guys and gals in the Village never mention how Jaimie and the other bank gangs have made billions transferring wealth from you and me to them through this little trick: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libor_scandal#Mortgage_rates_manipulated_on_reset_date
Gin & Tonic
It makes it very difficult and very complicated
I could have sworn that’s why he gets the big bucks – to deal with difficult and complicated issues.
Grumpy Code Monkey
That’s okay, they’ll still find a way to blame the Democrats.
@GxB: actually, Bank One bought Chase, after BO had swallowed First Chicago bank, which became Bank One and was the larger platform from which our sainted Mr. D took on Chase.
@Gin & Tonic: @Gin & Tonic: He can hire people to deal with the complicated issues. It’s called job creation. And no doubt he has quite a few ex-regulators inside his tent. This is pure whine. What he really means is that it is getting more and more difficult to evade the regulations.
Villago Delenda Est
Yup, going to need an electron microscope to find the violin I’m going to play for Jamie.
Villago Delenda Est
@BGinCHI: Jamie Dimon and his fellows are parasites.
Deal with them appropriately.
I really hope it was just a figure of speech that his giant colossal bank had “one” regulator and now has “five or six.” So that’s what, one per 50,000 employees?
At least he’s not blaming Obamacare.
I wouldn’t call JP Morgan one of the causes of the financial crisis, other banks were much more involved in this. But they were very much involved in interest rate manipulations.
It’s time for the Republicans, who have always supported a presidential line-item veto (at least when a Republican is president) to give Obama the line-item veto. That way he can veto all the noxious crap they try to cram through on must-pass bills.
I’m just kidding.
Dear Jamie, maybe if you hadn’t screwed the pooch so thoroughly, maybe everybody wouldn’t make you wear a condom, every time you go near a dog. Just a thought. And JP Morgan got caught, all on its own, for more than one transgression, for things it did before those buyouts happened.
mai naem mobile
Well, Jamie Dimon had throat cancer and we all know what Michael Douglas said about throat cancer so as some would say we were indeed getting screwed by Jamie Dimon.
In Dimon’s defense, from folks I know working in NYC banking, there’s a lot of rules coming from Dodd-Frank but none of the regulatory agencies have figured out how to implement everything.
You have one regulator stating ‘x’ is important and another following up with ‘x’ ain’t a big deal, we’re focusing on ‘z’ and skipping ‘y’.
Regulation is not a magic talisman to good government or making things better for people.
Think about the 10,000 forms of ID you need to get a driver’s license versus what it was like 20 years ago. Sure these regulations will help deter illegals from getting driver’s licenses, but was that such a huge problem before to burden people now?
Maybe better examples exist, but having government throw out a bunch of rules is not always guaranteed to make things better or address the actual underlying problem in the system.
Awesome. Could you please say that again, every day, to any news outfit who will listen? Bonus points if you mention they’re all Democrats. Thanks.
Useful rule of thumb for financial regulation: If it makes Jamie Dimon cry, you should do MUCH MORE of it.
Villago Delenda Est
What, did you cut and paste this from the comments over at Noisemax?
The shame is on the Dems for not using these same tricks to pass bills when Pelosi was in charge of the House
@Cervantes: Jim Tankersley of the WaPost wrote that.
A Black Hole for our Best and Brightest
He is a gem, one of the few real journalists out there today. He gets it. He’s taking up the slack at the Post since Dana Priest is not much in evidence any more.
Read the whole series, or just search his byline.
@Bill Arnold: sometimes we do have to be grateful for the little things
“Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens Act”
Has the GOP ever given a bill they are introducing a name that is actually relevant to what the bill says?
O/T, but turns out that France is a big stinking hypocrite when it comes to freedom of speech.
Controversial/hateful comedian Dieudonne has been arrested on charges of “condoning terrorism” based on the contents of a Facebook post making light of the attacks.
One thing the US of A can hang its hat on is that we’ve always had more liberal free speech laws than they do across the pond.
@Elizabelle: We paid some of the displaced nuclear scientists when the USSR went bust, so they would not hire out with Osama Bin Laden.
The rest went into finance. or Computer crime. ha ha.
Likewise with physics PhD’s in the US. They go to Wall Street and still come up with ways to blow up the financial world. ha ha again.
Mike in NC
@gene108: You should have stopped at “In Dimon’s defense”.
Make this scumbag live on the street for a week, begging commuters for nickels and pennies.
One solution you can guarantee the Congress will not try is: enough funding for the regulatory agencies.
Tree With Water
The hell of it is, even six years in most democrats can’t anticipate what the president will likely do. Example- the Keystone death funnel. A mysterious consensus has suddenly emerged (from god knows where) that it will be vetoed But no democrat really knows, which is absurd. Obama should have announced his opposition to it years ago.
Certainly no democrat in the country knows to what degree the president is willing to collaborate with the GOP in gutting social security. Not “restructuring”, gutting. Because that’s all the GOP cares about. Their every action, every proposal, is geared to effect its ultimate demise. Obama knows that, but is he willing to play ball with them? If the question sounds preposterous, you have a short memory. Remember the grand bargain?
As leader of the democratic party, the president owes it to the rank and file to declare war on the republican party. Congressional democrats should present him with a rubber stamp reading ‘veto, lest his signing hand develop carpal syndrome. Obama and congressional deems should welcome the showdown the bastards are courting, and hit them head on with all they’ve got. Get down to brass tacks, it’s either that, or the destruction of our democracy by the party of rule or ruin.
Jaime, is it like when JP Morgan is foreclosing on your house, and you have to deal with 5 or 6 different agents at different offices and they all tell you different things and apparently don’t communicate with each other and keep losing your paperwork and you have to send the same paperwork in 5 different times and they ignore it and keep plowing ahead and racking up fees?
Is it like that?
Requiring multiple forms of ID may have made it harder for illegals to get driver’s licenses, but it does not address the underlying problem of why people are here and how to deal with them, once they are here, in a practicable manner.
Regulators are not going to address the fact that finance has grown too big for the level of service the rest of the economy needs and is more about creating new ways to grab money for themselves than providing services that are needed by 99.99% of the economy.
EDIT: If there’s a giant pothole in the road, commissioning the town to put a sign on the road warning motorists to avoid the giant pothole – rather than paving the road – is basically what more and more regulations ends up being at some point of time. It’s better than nothing, but it is not a real fix.
OT: thinking of digitizing some vinyl record albums. Any suggestions? Thinking a few of you might have done this …
There just aint a bag of dicks large enough for Dixon to eat.
@BGinCHI: And yet, I as a researcher (molecular virology) am the unemployed one. Priorities, people!
peach flavored shampoo
It cant just be this easy, or else they’d throw Obamacare repeal and Keystone in these bills, too. And no one I’ve read is predicting this.
Tree With Water
@Elizabelle: Abraxas (by Santana), Sinatra At The Sands, Blood On The Tracks (Bobby Z), and anything ever recorded by The Doodletown Pipers.
@Tree With Water:
LOL. Great suggestions, all. We should do a thread: albums that must be digitized.
However, was looking for a suggestion on MP3 (?) technology for digitizing. Got the vinyl; want to put it in digital form and share some.
Be prepared to be stopped and likely arrested for driving by a military base, if you’ve got a dark beard and/or olive-colored skin.
@kc: well put.
@peach flavored shampoo: If it is something that big, Obama can veto and tell them to remove it. But can he do that for something that is marginal – like a change to a regulation? It gets tricky.
Hypocrisy? That’s not even the half of it.
A few years ago, a certain cartoonist for a certain French magazine wrote about the son of Nicholas Sarkozy that “he wants to convert to Judaism before marrying his fiancée, [who is] a Jew and [a heiress]. He will go far in this life, the little one!” When the cartoonist refused to retract the column, the editor fired him.
And the name of the magazine? Charlie Hebdo.
You can’t pressure people who would be just as happy to shut down the government on general principles to do anything by threatening to shut down the government.
@peach flavored shampoo:
Those are too easily and obviously blocked by presidential veto. Hell doing that might be enough to actually cause a filibuster in the Senate because it would be so nakedly and transparently obvious. At the very least it would pass with a partyline vote making it easy for Obama to veto (or partyline with a few of the obvious suspects defecting).
Attaching these kind of riders – that some Democrats want and are willing to say out loud that they want them – would generate less outrage in the Senate. And might even avoid a Presidential veto if the Republicans aren’t stupid about how they write them – but even if they do cause a veto it’s easier to spin that as “Obama has vetoed a bi-partisan spending bill over these bi-partisan amendments” than it is to spin “Obama has vetoed this partisan spending bill that has an Obamacare repeal poison pill attached”.
In other words – they might try to do it with Obamacare, but it’ll fail so few are actually talking about that as a tactic (though you do see folks saying that the GOPers will do it and force a veto as a political electioneering tactic). With “regulatory reform” it’s a tactic that has a decent chance of actually working and getting the reform past the presidential veto – which is why people are talking about it.
Key difference here: Real ID, its fallout, and its voter-suppression siblings are all products of a GOTea drive to make life difficult for ordinary people because Terrrrrrrrists, Big Gummint Cain’t Do Nuffin’ Raaht, and Voter Fraud™. Dodd-Frank and the new layers of finance industry regulation are intended to make life difficult for Wall St to skate on losing their customers’ funds playing the unsecured-financial-instrument equivalent of high-stakes poker, which at least three times in the last century we’ve seen is remarkably easy to do. The driver’s license / state ID steeplechase was designed to be difficult by people who think rights like voting, driving and keeping a job are for people who look like them, attend the same church, and can take time away from office or family without impact, and it’s proving remarkably successful at making life for anyone not exactly like that as difficult as was intended. The financial regulations were (theoretically) designed by people who think that anyone juggling other people’s money ought to have something vaguely resembling professional ethics, making it difficult for amoral Mammon-worshippers to continue their moneygrubbing ways. The question is whether the very real (and so far underprosecuted) Wall St whiz kids who cooked the books so thoroughly deserve the equivalent set of hurdles as the nearly-entirely-fictional AQ bomber trying to get through DMV or entirely-fictional ballot-box-stuffer trying to skew the election, or less, or more. My money’s on “more”, though of course I’m interested in catching genuine criminals and not characters from The Brothers Grimm: A Chronicle of the GWoT.
And WHAT triggered moderation in #50?
While there may have been anti-immigration motives since, the reason you need better documentation to get a driver’s license than 20 years ago was because it was really easy for the 9/11 hijackers to get fake driver’s licenses at the time, and use that as a basis for creating a broader fake identity. I remember it well, because my area (Northern Virginia) was one of the places they did that.
You might try doing a little research before trying to tie regulations to an issue liberals would object to.
As the financial regulations, sure, it can take a while to get regulations right, and the stuff that Dimon is whining about may be part of that back-and-forth. But just as with taxes, the fact that conservatives are reflexively anti-regulation doesn’t mean liberals believe more regulation is always the solution. After decades of conservative anti-regulatory activism, it frequently is, because the pendulum has swung pretty far, but we’re for an appropriate amount of regulation to get the job done.
However much you may believe that more regulation isn’t always the answer, I’ve got a global economic meltdown driven by relatively unregulated financial sectors that makes it pretty fucking obvious that not having more regulation isn’t the answer in this case. You want to suggest an alternative way to “make things better” for the millions who lost jobs, savings, and more so that Dimon-types could squeeze out more millions out of legalized gambling that produces virtually nothing of value, I’m all ears.
mai naem mobile
I’m listening to the Diane Rehm show and they’re talking about Procol Harum and Nigeria. I am so confused. What does Whiter Shade of Pale have to do with Nigerians?
@Elizabelle: Digitizing albums:
I still have my Reagan-era stereo, so I just plugged one of the tape outputs to the audio input of my computer, downloaded shareware audio software (I’ve had good luck with Audacity), played the LPs. One you have the 40 minute or so sound file, save the individual tracks to individual MP3 files and import into whatever library you use.
There are lots of ways to improve the output of the process if desired. The analog to digital (A/D) converter in your PC or Mac is far from top of the line, so the signal can be routed from the stereo though an upgraded outboard A/D unit to a USB port for better quality. There’s a lot of processing that can be done on the soundfile – removing some or all clicks or pops, improving equalization, optimizing volume. Depending on how you store and where you’re going to play back the files, MP3 may not be the ideal format – if you’re sticking with MP3, you probably don’t need to sweat the native A/D converter.
I’m still working through my LP and cassette collections in fits and starts after several years – good luck!
Oh, I think they’ll try, but how much is going to depend on how many fracks POTUS has left to give. And we really don’t know that yet, which is a smart thing to do in my mind. Let them find out after they’ve made the call, not before.
Again, I would be fascinated to hear what you think would be analogous to “paving the road” in the financial industry. And why you think regulations prohibiting financial actors from the kinds of actions that contributed to the meltdown is analogous to “putting up a sign warning motorists to avoid the giant pothole.”
Because it seems like a better traffic analogy would be that we have an intersection where high-speed traffic is caused major crashes, and a traffic light or lower speed limit (regulation) is a fairly uncontroversial response.
It’s a lot easier to make up an analogy intended to make something you don’t like sound stupid than actually make the case that it is stupid.
@Elizabelle: Skip the USB-equipped turntables: they may record well (or not, depending on the product) but I’ve yet to see one that won’t measurably shorten the life of the vinyl unless Pro-Ject has come out with something recently. If you have a means to hook up a good quality digital recording device to the stereo with the turntable, it should be worthwhile. A decent alternate would be a SoundBlaster Audigy card (or better) connected by fiber optic: the chipsets are decent (if not recording-studio grade) and the ripping software is reasonably intuitive. Best option I’ve seen so far is the solid phono preamp, solid receiver with digital connectivity, and at least reasonable digital recording device connected by fiber optic. Translation: Cambridge Audio preamp and receiver, Pro-Ject table with Ortofon cartridge or better, and Astell&Kern device doing the recording. If you know anyone with the equipment and at least similar musical taste, swap lunch for an afternoon’s listening and ripping – because the price tag is high enough that buying the files new from HDTracks will be cheaper than all the hardware.
Where are the calls for the line item veto? Oh, wait. That’s only when the Congress is controlled by Democrats and the President is a Republican.
There is no such thing as a “must-pass” bill. That’s media bullshit for “Dems should do what Republicans want”.
@Elizabelle: @boatboy_srq: I take it back: Pro-Ject does have something to handle this.
@Cervantes: I wish that this would get some serious media play but it won’t. Charlie Hebdo was not the “equal opportunity offender” that they’ve been made out to be. They had one absolute “no-go” zone and any criticism or mockery of Israel or Judaism was it.
Thank you both.
@Elizabelle: Let me know if you pick that up: I’ve been drooling over Pro-Ject product for a while.
Honestly, these bankers act as if they don’t realize just how well equipped with lamp posts their financial districts are…
For example, I recall a cover featuring three rolls of toilet paper, one for each of the three Abrahamic scriptures.
@boatboy_srq: Advising people who are happy with the sound quality of recording from their “Reagan-era” nail-on-plastic devices (or even rust-onna-string) to go buy from HDtracks is a bit over the top. At least test if you can hear the difference between an Amazon/iTunes mp3 and some high-samplerate uncompressed audio. Much cheaper if you can’t!
Most cost-effective way is to buy the equivalent CDs used from a local record store or Amazon and rip those. They are already digital so no degradation of sound quality. There is some work in ripping them but much less than from analog sources.
False, as a simple Google search will show.
I also saw that France still has the Sarkozy regime law on the books that criminalizes insulting the French flag or national anthem to the tune of 6 months incarceration and a fine of $7,500 Euros.
A champion of free expression, they are not.
I’ve done several. Used a device called an Inport from Xitel to connect stereo with turntable to laptop via tape output jacks on stereo, then a free software package called Audacity to do the actual recording, ripping, labeling, etc. I’d classify it as a label of love, there’s a lot of fiddling around involved. On the other hand, there’s definitely a feeling of satisfaction at hearing Edgar Winter’s primal scream on Give It Everything You Got from Edgar Winter’s White Trash once it’s been digitized.
@Ernest Pikeman: My point was that HDtracks was cheaper than new equipment to get the most from the vinyl (did you see my shopping list there? That was $4K in devices minimum, with $5C of that just for the platter), so unless you’re doing some homespun Soundesign-to-PC-mike-jack cabling and you’re happy with the results, then snagging already digital content would be a better solution and the current MP3 material in the mass market isn’t good enough. Most of the vinyl rippers I’ve run into are old-school audiophiles who never liked the digital sound: they forked out substantial lucre back in the day, and came home with Carver and Thorens stuff so their LPs sounded perfect (even after ten years of play). And before either of us disparages “Reagan-era stereo” too much further, that was the heyday of the high-quality vinyl and turntable, and most of the modern names in analog audio today point straight back to Thorens, Ortofon, and other high-end makers of the time as direct influences if not flat-out original designs they (shamelessly) copied. In the absolute, Old != low quality, just as digital !> analog.
“In the old days, you dealt with one regulator when you had an issue, maybe two. Now it’s five or six.”
Jamie, I’ve got a newsflash for ya; the only thing standing between you and the pitchfork mob is that small gaggle of regulators. You might want to send them a thank you note.
Jamie Dimon is the rare individual who could change my very negative views on prison rape.
@gene108: This is correct. There’s a difference between the “Obama and his commie cronies want to confiscate our wealth and put us out of business” whining, and “There’s a crapload of uncertainty as to the new reality when it comes to compliance, and it’s a little difficult to navigate.”
This particular quote from Dimon is a lot closer to the latter. He’s had plenty of the former, too, and is deserving of whatever ridicule and lack of sympathy we heap on him for those. But there’s a widespread confusion in the financial services and banking community as to what they’re allowed to do, what they’re not, and who’s in charge of enforcement, right now. Part of this can be blamed on, you guessed it, Republicans, who won’t let anything get implemented and are still more interested in repealing necessary/protective portions of Dodd-Frank than they are in clearing up the muddy waters of interpretation and regulatory implementation and funding regulators to do the same. Because, of course, it serves them better politically to not have a settled environment.
@Elizabelle: There is technology available to extract the audio from high-resolution pictures of the platter, simply by interpreting the local shape of the groove.
I don’t think you should do it that way, I just think it’s really, really cool.
Couldn't Stand the Weather
You’re preaching to the choir, here.
My Thorens TD-316 needs a new cartridge. I’ll be getting off cheap if I put a $250 Ortofon in it.
My Tandberg receiver (TR-2075) was made during the Nixon administration, whereas the Thorens came from Reagan’s.
My B&W speakers were made in the early 1990s. More recent than the rest of my equipment, but still too old for Bowers & Wilkins’ ill-advised move to metal tweeters.
Gotta rip some of my vinyl, once I get that cartridge replaced. Thanks for the ideas.
@Lurking Canadian: I recall, right before the CD came out, industry scuttlebutt that lasers would replace diamonds in turntable cartridges. Imagine: unlimited plays with zero wear! Of course it didn’t happen – and part of me suspects that RIAA opposed it because it meant that fans would never need to replace worn-out LPs.
@Couldn’t Stand the Weather: I hear really good things about the Cambridge preamps, and A&K make some amazing toys with dual Wolfson DACs (with matching price tags, natch). Plus the SoundBlaster Audigy is a rockstar, and SB seems to have newer and better cards nowadays (my Audigy is a couple years old). And have you looked at Sumiko instead of Ortofon (just curious)?
Couldn't Stand the Weather
Sumiko, Grado, Ortofon, Benz. The prices are decently higher than they were when I bought that old Grace F9E back in the day.
Gotta hope I get a nice tax refund this year.
I have a PCI Express sound card in my computer. That Asus is not great, but better than the budget cards out here.
google translate is not up to the task: what appears to be said law
Has the law ever been tested in court?
Edit: wikipedia says it has at least once, for a flag burning at a public festival.
Tree With Water
@Heliopause: That’s exactly what Obama told a herd of bankers a few months into his presidency. Remember that? Then he asked them to join in a sing-a-long of Kumbaya.
@Elizabelle: Audacity is a free program with which you can digitize vinyl (if you have a USB turntable) and save files in MP3 or any format you wish. I use Vinyl Studio, a $30.00 program that is easier to use.
@Couldn’t Stand the Weather: Pricing is getting back to gotta-be-a-true-audiophile levels, but some better Pro-Ject/Ortofon pairings are cheaper in adjusted dollars than my old middle-of-the-road Technics/Audio-Technica table-and-cartridge set from way back when, and they’re obviously better product. You can get a decent Creative card for not a lot of money, and there are PCI-E boards in the list. The new Z-series look like they put my (still pretty spiffy) Audigy card to shame, and that came packed with some really good software (including Audacity, I think), so I’d expect that a ZxR, coupled with your setup, to be about as close as you can get to recording-studio-grade. If replacing the card means replacing the Asus first, new may not be necessary: there are some impressive workstation-grade (i.e. former CAD and animation machines) coming onto the off-lease market for decent $$s.