Sunday, May 20, 2012

Jamie Dimon, still Master of the Universe

Perhaps he has added 'Master of the Putzes' to his many titles and professional distinctions. Then again, maybe it's the customers and shareholders of JPMorgan Chase that are the larger schmucks.

It’s official. Just as he was voted in for a second term as Class A New York Fed director in February 2010, Jamie Dimon was reelected chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase yesterday afternoon. He got to keep his $23 million pay package, too. All without breaking a sweat.

This means that at each of three of the top five bank-holding companies dominating U.S. derivatives exposure, loans, assets, and deposits, the same man holds the chairman and CEO positions—at Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, and JPM Chase.  (Bank of America and Citigroup separated those roles.). If the stock buckles under another “discovery,” shareholders can take comfort in blaming themselves, not Jamie Dimon.
At the shareholders meeting there was no mention of the details behind the “mistake” that cost the bank $2 billion, just that it “should never have happened.” (The Titanic shouldn’t have sunk either.) Most shareholders had already voted before the loss became public anyway. Ultimately, 91 percent of them approved Dimon’s pay, and 60 percent voted for him to retain both executive positions. This makes the timing of the loss announcement, if not suspicious, then, self-serving -- or self-inflicted.

If you haven't watched the HBO docu-drama Too Big to Fail, (based on the book by Andrew Sorkin), I heartily recommend doing so at your earliest opportunity. Here's the trailer:

Bill Pullman -- the President of the United States in Independence Day -- plays the far-more-MVP Dimon in this flick. It's both comical and pathetic to watch the once (Hank Paulson, played by William Hurt) and future (Tim Geithner, played by Billy Crudup) Secretaries of the Treasury kowtow, grovel, and prostrate themselves before Dimon.

One of the movie's best lines comes after Geithner (Crudup) describes a conversation with Dimon (Pullman): "I told him we need his help. And I asked him very politely not to [expletive] with us today."

Art imitates life imitating art. In real life, Geithner avoids any harsh language in suggesting, as politely as possible, that Dimon may want to reconsider his service on the same regulatory body that is responsible for policing his even-bigger-now-than-it-was-then TBTF bank.

No public response yet from the MotU. But I bet I can guess what the private one was: something along the lines of "STFU, MoFo".

The nicest thing that can be said about Jamie Dimon is that he may not be as evil as Mark Zuckerberg -- who got married yesterday following the failure of his company's IPO (not for him and a few others, but for everybody else). Congratulations, Mark and Priscilla. Y'all aren't moving to Singapore too, are ya?

Update: In quite possibly the worst conclusion ever leapt to in all of recorded history, Loren Steffy, business writer for the Houston Chronicle, argues that Chase's $2 billion dollar derivatives trading loss is why Elizabeth Warren should not be running for the US Senate.

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