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JPMorgan Chase CEO: I Was Safer In Lebanon Than With The Occupy Protesters

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JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said he felt safer in Lebanon than among the Occupy protestors.
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said he felt safer in Lebanon than among the Occupy protestors.

For Jamie Dimon, the shelter of his Upper East Side mansion isn't enough to keep him safe from the Occupy protesters. Instead, the JPMorgan Chase CEO said he felt safer halfway around the world that October day when protesters occupied the sidewalk outside his Manhattan home.

"That particular day, I was in Lebanon, Beirut doing business over there and I was probably safer over there too," Dimon told Fox News.

In October, the protesters took their march to Dimon's home, along with the homes of other of super-rich New Yorkers including real estate developer Howard Milstein and hedge fund manager John Paulson. At the time, Dimon was likely meeting in the safety of Beirut's corporate conference rooms, but the city is in the volatile region of the Middle East -- violence currently raging in Syria is threatening to spill over into Lebanon.

Though Dimon was a target of the Occupy movement, he told Fox News that he agrees with some of their points.

"The institutions of America -- broadly defined -- let us down and that includes Wall Street, includes Washington for the most part," he said. "When you get beyond that and you blame us all equally, all politicians, all businesses, all banks, that's not accurate and I think that leads to bad policy."

Dimon's most recent comments echoed earlier complaints about the tendency of the public to lump Wall Street into one group. The CEO told Fox News last month that he disagrees with the "blanket blame of all banks."

Though Dimon netted $17.3 million in restricted stock options from JPMorgan in 2011, he said that he agrees with the Occupy protesters emphasis on income inequality. The top one percent of Americans saw their incomes grow 275 percent between 1979 and 2007, according to the Congressional Budget Office, while the the bottom fifth of earners only saw a 20 percent boost during the same period.

"Washington needs to have a serious argument about how do you fix the problem, not just complain about it," he told Fox News. "While celebrating work, success, meritocracy -- let's not throw the baby out with the bath water on that."

Dimon isn't the only big bank CEO to offer a measured endorsement of some of the Occupy movement's goals. Citigroup Chief Vikram Pandit said in an October interview with Fortune that he thinks the protesters' sentiments are "completely understandable."

Still, some banks were a bit more concerned. Goldman Sachs reportedly told its employees to stay away from Zuccotti Park during the height of the protests in October, while Bank of America sent an internal memo to some employees in December urging them not to engage with protesters involved in the Occupy Our Homes protests, according to Zero Hedge.

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