Chase CEO: 'I don't get it'

Jamie Dimon

This final note today from the Marketplace Desk of "I Don't Think You Quite Understand."  JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon was speaking at a financial industry conference today organized -- for what it's worth -- by Goldman Sachs.

Anyway, Dimon was asked about banks and how everybody seems to be mad at 'em nowadays. Here's what he said:

Jamie Dimon: I mean, acting like everyone who's been successful is bad and that because you're rich you're bad, I don't understand it. I don't get it.

So there you go.

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Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
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Read "The Devils Are All Here" by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera.
Then printout this quote from Vince Lombardi and put it in your wallet.
"Leaders are made, they are not born; and they are made just like anything else has ever been made in this country--by hard effort. And that is the price that we all have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal."

"And despite of what we say about being born equal, none of us really are born equal, but rather unequal. And yet the talented are no more responsible for their birthright than the underprivileged. And the measure of each should be what each does in a specific situation."

"It is becoming increasingly difficult to be tolerant of a society who has sympathy only for the misfits, only for the maladjusted, only for the criminal, only for the loser. Have sympathy for them, help them; but think it is also a time for all of us to stand up for and to cheer for the doer, the achiever, one who recognizes a problem and does something about it, one who looks at something extra to do for his/her Country, the winner, the leader!"
Wall Street bandits, political crooks and many people on Main Street were being purposefully obtuse about the financial choices they made. Many were willfully blind to whether choices like a double mortgage made sense or using their home equity as a credit card was wise. Leaders? Nowhere. Who cared if America was turned into another Rome. (Consider the goofy discussions about stadiums still going on when citizens don't have safe, dry places to walk, bike, play, even sleep in the winter.) The media goes on infinitium about the Madoff ponzi scheme which greatly impacted a select group of people. Yet that same media provides no investigative coverage of 'not-for-profit' insurnance companies who are making billions off Americans while providing very, very little actual health care. After paying out thousands and thousands in healthcare premiums if you don't need health care you don't get a penny back - in a health care savings plan, toward assisted living, toward eye and dental care because they are allowed to exclude eyes and teeth from the body! Talk about the ultimate ponzi scheme - one that is largely government sponsored because most government employees have no choice whether they have health insurance or would rather receive actual money for health care.

Call a spade a spade these guys are criminals they run major criminal empires and at present are guilty of crimes against humanity and should be held accountable as such.No need to get into lengthy explanations of this and that when most can not get there heads around the complexity of the crimes.God help us.

I don't resent anyone on the basis that they simply "have more than I do." The people I'm angry at are the ones whose wealth is due to a deck being stacked against me, a system that protects them at my expense, and who do not "get" that this inequity is the source of their wealth.

Perhaps a sports metaphor would help: I'm angry at people who were born on third base and think they hit a triple.

Perfectly and succinctly said. My sentiments exactly.

Maybe I just don't get it, either...
I do not believe that banks (or any other private business) have any particular obligation or role to fill in society. They are obliged to strive for profit (and would be a damn poor business if they didn't!) for their shareholders. I don't doubt that laws could be better written, or perhaps are no longer needed to encourage banking... but that really isn't the bank's fault.

The only reason I resent ANYBODY making more money than me is if by so doing they are reducing money rightfully mine. Therefore high government salaries and expenses can be maddening, since my tax dollars pay for them... and I suppose one could stretch that out to anybody benefitting from government policies... but it gets kind of tenuous at that point. To be upset then AND consistent, you'd have to resent EVERYBODY that benefitted from the tax dollars... otherwise it's just one more excuse for naked (and ugly) envy. The CEO of Chase making 10x, 100x, 500x what the janitor makes does not take a single dime away from me... and compared to the size of Chase, MIGHT take a single dime away from each employee.

As I said, I just don't get it. Most of the complaints I see here are just various shades of greed. I certainly don't want a regulatory body deciding how much money I'm allowed to make. I'll likely never be the CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation, so such decisions might never impact me directly... but I find the idea disgusting and offensive.

Now, all that being said: the government bailing out failing institutions is just plain wrong. It may be justified (I get SOME of the issues involved), but that makes it no less wrong. It can only be hoped that the benefits outweigh the wrongness (which I think is a rare, rare thing).

It is evident that Mr. Dimon has not only lost touch with reality, but has lost touch with the charter of what role banks play in both the economy and society. Banks are an institution designed to not only make a modest profit, but to enable an economy's money to be circulated in the form of loans, protect that economy during hard times, and help small businesses succeed via loans and investments. Unfortunately, most large corporate banks have a demented view of what a modest profit is. Banks are allowed to borrow money from the FED at a very small rate (say 2-4%), then turn around and loan it back to us, the population at 6-8%! If I did that I would be accused of racketeering! I guess that is why many people and small businesses have abandoned corporate banks (BofA, Chase etc...) and are turning back to their hometown and or neighborhood credit union. Time and time again these institutions have shown that they invest in the local community, and work with people and small businesses in order to help the local economy survive, thrive, and grow. Once other Americans start to get back in touch with their local banks and credit unions, I think that corporate banks will have to go back to finding ways to keep customers. If the proviso that "all politics are local" holds true, then it may also stand that all economies are local too, but they all contribute to the national scene.

If it was the opposite, "because you're POOR you're bad," everyone would be appalled by such a comment. I think he has a point.

Mr Dimon, how about grant that loan modification you have denied me 3 times, take the hit, do a reset on the housing market, show this country that it's not about being rich, it's about leadership and following through with the responsibilities banks have been entrusted with. Then you may get it.

He pretty much summed up the whole problem with his own words. "He doesn't get it" why people would be upset at people being rewarded for doing a bad job -at the very best -if not being thieves and leaches. I don't know what would be worse... him blatantly lying that he "Doesn't get it" or him really "Not getting it".

Mr. Dimon, let us help you understand. You see, its really quite simple. People do not resent wealth earned by means that are straightforward, ethical and honest. Such people are respected and often give back to the community generously. We just don't believe that you and other bank CEOs meet that criteria.


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