"We have let a lot of people down and are sorry for it."
Those are the words of JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon in prepared testimony that he's expected to deliver in person Wednesday before the Senate Banking Committee.
Though he's sincerely really really sorry, Dimon also says that mistakes like the bank's multibillion dollar trading losses could very well happen again.
The Wall Street Journal's Deal Blog notes that today is the two-month anniversary of Dimon calling the losses a "tempest in a teapot."
Follow here for live updates from HuffPost's Mark Gongloff. A live video stream appears below.
Check out this video from Fox Business of Jamie Dimon shaking hands and shmoozing with Senators before his testimony (h/t Business Insider):
|@ hblodget : The most important thing Dimon said was "we didn't understand the risks." Message is: If they didn't, no one does.|
Well, that sad circus is finally pulling out of town.
What have we learned?
1. Purple ties really bring out the blue in your eyes.
2. When throwing out bathwater, check to make sure there's not any babies in it.
3. Markets solve every single financial crisis they cause.
4. Jamie Dimon's God is an angry, jealous God.
5. Seriously, Jamie Dimon claims he feels bad about his bank's losses, but he really doesn't seem to feel the least bit sorry.
6. Dimon has not changed his mind one iota about regulation -- he still thinks it's pretty much all bad.
7. Congress is probably going to agree with him.
8. We will have more financial crises.
Thanks for playing, everyone. Let's be careful out there.
In response to questioning by David Vitter (R-La.), Dimon finally says he thinks the Volcker Rule is just going to be too hard to get right and isn't even necessary at all.
Earlier in the hearing, he was much more hedged about this. He earlier said he didn't know if the Volcker Rule would have prevented his bank's loss in credit derivatives.
Now he's basically saying it wouldn't have.
Dimon also said that markets, not regulations, fixed up all the problems that caused the last financial crisis. Yes, markets.
|@ grossdm : Jamie Dimon says JPM isn't in the hedge fund business. Except for the hedge fund business it owns. http://t.co/RYflAer5|
Earlier, Dimon trotted out all of his other old arguments against regulation, saying the financial system provides liquidity that makes finance cheaper for the world and only occasionally results in massive global financial meltdowns.
He also warns we risk throwing it all away unless we spend years and years thinking about and watering down regulation:
"We have the widest, deepest and best capital markets in the world," he sobbed. "It would be a shame to shed that out of anger." See Baby, Bathwater.
Merkley is also the first senator to ask about Bloomberg's reports that Dimon pushed the CIO to take bigger risks.
Dimon, obviously angry with Merkley, dodges the question with a lot of numbers about how non-risky the CIO's overall portfolio is.
Merkley asks again, and Dimon says "I don't believe everything I read, I hope you don't either."
Asked a third time about it, he mutters something about not knowing what he's talking about, how he'll have to get more detail.
Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) swings the Old Testament hammer at Jamie Dimon:
"If you had applied Old Testament justice in 2008, JPMorgan would have gone down, and you would have been out of a job."
Dimon is visibly angry.
Dimon is now in full regulation-bashing mode, bringing out his old warning that we don't "throw the baby out with the bathwater" when we regulate banks.
In this metaphor, which Dimon has used often in the past, the "baby" is the magnificent U.S. financial system, and the "bathwater" is Bear Stearns, or something like that.
Jamie Dimon just went all medieval on the concept of Too Big To Fail, saying he wants that concept not only to go away but to die a painful death.
"We have to allow big institutions to fail," he said. "We shouldn't prop them up."
He wants executive pay clawbacks, management and the board to be fired, stockholders to be wiped out. And there's more!
"I think their name should be buried in disgrace," he added. "This is Old Testament justice here."
Nobody can disagree, really. But: Dimon's bank may well not be in existence if it were not for the taxpayer's assistance to JPMorgan and all of its TBTF friends.
Dimon says JPMorgan Chase's "Job No. 1" is to serve clients.
"That's in their hearts, to do the right thing every day," he says of his employees. "We ask them to treat people the way they would treat their friends or parents."
|@ pkedrosky : All of the endless & tedious tweeting about Jamie Dimon/JPM almost has me pining for the Facebook IPO. Almost.|
Jon Tester (D-Mont.) has the gall to bring up MF Global at this cozy hearing! He wants to know why JPMorgan Chase held onto MF Global client money for seven months.
Dimon says the bank was waiting for guidance from the bankruptcy trustees and courts before releasing the money. They "weren't deliberately withholding the money."
"We still haven't fixed the mortgage markets," Dimon says.Oh yeah, that. Five years after the subprime crash, there is still somewhere on the order of trillion in negative equity in the housing market, and home prices in many parts of the country continue to fall. Homes in some parts of Ft. Myers, Fla. are selling for as little as ,000. And the government's effort to force banks, including JPMorgan Chase, to write off at least some of the principal on these loans as punishment for ignoring homeowners and illegally speeding borrowers through foreclosure is off to a depressingly slow start, as we reported yesterday.
Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) gets Dimon further wound up, asking him if maybe Dodd-Frank was driving businesses away from America, and Dimon says, yes, he thinks maybe it is.
"I talk to a lot of businesspeople and do hear a lot of people saying it's easier to be overseas, and several people have moved overseas," Dimon says, more in sadness than in anger.
Johanns says very meaningfully that no new bank had been chartered last year for the first time in a billion years or something, and Dimon says he wasn't aware of that, and shakes his head together with Johanns in mutual horror at this state of affairs.
Meanwhile, the Global Financial Crisis is banging on the door of the hearing room, begging to get in and be recognized/remembered.
Thirteen more senators, five minutes apiece, still to go. Good times.
Dimon says he did not personally approve the CIO's dumb trade, but he was aware of it. Which is sort of the same thing, no?
Dimon is now saying Dodd-Frank is just terrible:
"I believe in strong regulation, not more," he said in response to some revving-up by Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)
"I would have preferred a simple, clean strong regulatory system with real intelligent design, and that's not what we did," he adds.
"We created a really complex" system, he said, that's hard to figure out "who has responsibility and authority."
Ha ha, DeMint asks Dimon to come back to testify again to help them figure out regulation.
Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) turns up the heat a little bit, asking Dimon if his firm really wasn't just gambling, not hedging. Dimon denies that, of course.
He questions Dimon about past statements, which Dimon once made as regularly as he brushes his teeth, bashing regulation, including calling greater capital requirements "anti-American."
Dimon declares that Menendez is not quoting him correctly. He says his bank is all about regulation -- it supports "parts of" regulation and reform, higher capital requirements, all that stuff. Loves it! Can't get enough of it!
The "anti-American thing," Dimon calls it, was just about how some reforms were putting American banks at a disadvantage, that's all. Why does everybody always get hung up on it?
Menendez says he's going to review the transcript to see what Dimon said, that he thinks Dimon is the one with the faulty memory. He also asks Dimon, basically, why he has the gall to always be complaining about regulation when his bank and his industry are alive because of taxpayer money.
Dimon says he thinks some reforms don't make sense, and he's entitled to say when they don't make sense.
He's starting to get warmed up a little bit now. The American financial system is the greatest in the world, he declares. "I hope we get back to working again instead of just shooting each other all the time." Ah, yeah, there's the defensiveness we were looking for.
Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is trying hard to get Dimon to bash regulation, but he's not biting.
Corker invites Dimon to scoff at the idea that regulators can catch losses like his, and Dimon agrees that they can't.
Corker twice invites Dimon to scoff at the idea that Dodd-Frank has made the financial system safer, and Dimon ultimately says, "I don't know."
Corker also asks him to defend gigantic, complex banks, and Dimon does that. He's providing services that America needs, gosh darn it, and if he didn't do it, somebody else would do it.
Jack Reed (D-R.I.) asks why the CIO's risk model was changed, which happened to allow the CIO to take on more risk.
Dimon says risk models are changed all over the firm all the time, no big whoop. He says this wasn't done for "nefarious purposes," and they changed it back when they realized they were losing a bunch of money.
|@ BorowitzReport : In the time it's taking Jamie Dimon to testify he could be back at the office losing 4 billion dollars.|
Dimon says hedging should be allowed because you have "analytics to make sure you think it protects the company in a bad outcome." But he also just minutes ago said their models were wrong about how their derivative portfolio protected the company in bad outcomes.
Finally, he gets asked about the Volcker Rule and how to distinguish between proprietary trading, which is forbidden by Volcker, and hedging, which is theoretically allowed.
He says, predictably, that you can't tell the difference. Everything the bank does is proprietary, he says -- lending money to firefighters, buying Treasury debt.
Yes, but. There's that, and then there's loading up on credit derivatives.
Dimon gets asked what regulators should do, a ripe opportunity to thunder his usual warnings about the horrors of regulation. He passes.
He says the most important thing regulators can do is to raise capital requirements and liquidity standards, improve disclosures and good governance and such.
He says this won't stop mistakes, but will make them "smaller, fewer, farther between."
He also says "implementing all of Dodd-Frank" and international capital requirements and such will accomplish some of those things. So that's a change.
And Jamie Dimon loves -- no, lurves -- stress tests.
He asks: What's to stop this from happening again, being a larger loss, or at weaker or less-well-capitalized institution?
Were we just lucky we found out about this one?
What is your assessment, oh great banker?
Dimon answers with the mushiest possible business-speak about how regulators should encourage "best practices," and Schumer lets it slide. Your watchdog in the Senate, New York.