JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon during a recent interview with New York magazine decried overbearing government regulations, at one point practically shouting, “It’s a free. F**king. Country!”
Dimon also made the case for deregulation (or at least a general “loosening up”) because, he says, fear of retribution has many small bank owners terrified to make a move.
“The whole world has become crazy. Businesses get attacked every time they do something," he said. "Everyone is afraid of retaliation."
“We recently had an event with a hundred small bankers here, and 85 percent of them said they can’t challenge the regulation because of the potential retribution. That’s a terrible thing, okay? This is not the Soviet Union -- this is the United States of America. That’s what I remember. Guess what?” he asked with a raised voice, “It’s a free. F**king. Country.”
Dimon went on to argue that anyone who says the banks are “too big” doesn’t understand the benefits that come with the size.
“We bank [machinery and engine company] Caterpillar in like 40 countries. We can do a $20 billion bridge loan overnight for a company that’s about to do a major acquisition,” he said.
“Size lets us build a $500 million data center that speeds up transactions, and invest billions of dollars in products like ATMs and apps that allow your iPhone to deposit checks. We move $2 trillion a day, and you can see it by account, by company. These aren’t, like, little things. And they accrue to the customer. That’s what capitalism is,” he added.
Dimon also criticized those who think the financial industry alone is responsible for the country’s economic woes:
I am not responsible for the financial crisis. I hate to tell you. We were a port of safety in the storm. I find it unbelievable that that is the general theme -- that you have to walk in a room and act like you are responsible for things you are not responsible for.
And whether you agree with him when he says the financial industry was "a port of safety" during the height of the recession, he is correct when he says people love to blame the banks for everything that has gone wrong in the last few decades.
“Earlier this summer we had the LIBOR scandal that was involved with a lot of the big banks and led to the resignation of the CEO from Barclays. More recently we had Sandy Weill saying the banks needed to be broken up. With the banks so big, how is it possible to monitor every aspect?” one student interning in Client Solutions asked Dimon during a Q&A session.
“With banking in a secular or cyclical decline, do you truly believe that this is a good place for us to start our careers, considering all of the other opportunities available to us?” another student asked.
“In an industry associated with surprisingly low standards --” yet another student started to say.
And this is precisely the sort of talk that rubs Dimon the wrong way.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Dimon interjected. “Before you go to the next level of generalizing, saying, ‘all bankers,’ ‘all banks.’ I don’t like that.”
“I don’t buy this thing that our industry is responsible for all the ills of the world. We have great people at JPMorgan Chase. We operate with a lot of rigor. Our clients are happy with us. Sure, we make mistakes, like we have got this Whale thing. Businesses make mistakes. So we’ve got to clean them up, learn from them, and get better,” he adds.
When asked by New York magazine about his reputation as an outspoken defender of the financial industry, Dimon responded: “I’m an outspoken defender of the truth.”
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(H/T: The Daily Caller)