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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

JPMorgan Chase has announced that it will cover Social Security and welfare payments for its customers if the government goes into default or the shutdown continues.

If nothing else, this is a good public relations ploy - a good public relations move - for a company that hasn't had much lately.

Here's NPR's Ted Robbins.

TED ROBBINS, BYLINE: JPMorgan Chase spent almost 40 percent of the company's revenue over the last quarter - more than $9 billion - on legal expenses. Money paid to fight government investigations and on fines. Not a pretty picture. Now the Wall Street Journal reports JPMorgan's CEO, Jamie Dimon, is pledging to let customers draw on their accounts for free to cover Social Security and welfare payments if the government is unable to send them starting later this month.

Consumer advocate Ed Mierzwinski likes that move.

ED MIERZWINSKI: I think it's a very smart idea by a bank that's being punished in the press.

ROBBINS: JPMorgan would almost certainly get its money back once Washington comes to an agreement. Even if there's no agreement, Alex Pollock of the American Enterprise Institute says it's unlikely the government would stop paying social security and welfare. But he says it's reassuring for people who need that money.

ALEX POLLACK: I guess it won't be necessary but, you know, whenever people are worried about contingencies to have some kind of hedge or insurance is good.

ROBBINS: If it comes to it, JPMorgan Chase would temporarily lay out between $6 billion and $8 billion. And it would gain some good will.

Ted Robbins, NPR News.

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