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Dennis M. Kelleher

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Where Is Jamie Dimon When You Need Him?

Posted: 02/16/2012 12:09 pm

JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is constantly running around railing about financial reform generally and the Volcker Rule in particular, usually in such hyperbolic terms that it should self-discrediting. Here's one example of his over-the-top ridiculous claims about the Volcker Rule: "We are going to have to have a lawyer, compliance officer, doctor to see what [a trader's] testosterone levels are, and a shrink, what is your intent?" Mr. Dimon has said a number of times.

He has also often referred to the Dodd-Frank law that was enacted by the Legislative and Executive Branches of the United States government to protect the American people from another multi-trillion dollar financial collapse, most of which was used to bail out the biggest banks in this country from their reckless trades and investments, as "Dodd Frankenstein." Such juvenile name-calling should be beneath any responsible executive, but not much more can be expected from a Wall Street that just can't stop whining about how poorly they are being treated, ignoring the no-accountability bailouts and bonuses and the real suffering of the rest of America.

Yet, Jamie inexplicably continues to get great coverage in all the top tier media (or at least the almost guaranteed friendly media that his handlers let him talk to).

But, his crocodile tears and frequent civilization-will-end complaints are little more than transparent attempts to protect his and his fellow bankers' bonuses and businesses, even though he would never, ever refer to such an unseemly topic. No. He talks about getting the economy growing again and increasing employment. To listen to him and what he claims his concerns are, you'd think he was the chief growth and employment officer of the US.

Very odd how he never mentions his bank profits or revenues or anti-competitive business lines or, God forbid (or should I say "Goldman forbid"?) bonuses and excessive compensation. No. Jamie doesn't care about any of that. He only cares about US growth, employment and competitiveness -- just listen to him.

He is so singularly focused on being selflessly pro-American he is the global guard dog against all things anti-American. Well, ok, not all things. But certainly all things that might keep him from earning billions in compensation or reigning in his bank's many business lines, which conveniently act as a nice cover for every other Tom, Dick and Harry in the financial industry worldwide, no matter how undeserving they might be.

Yet now, when there are some very real and very serious anti-American actions being asked for, he is strangely silent. Could it be because the current anti-American requests coincide with his claims against financial reform? Of course it is and it reveals what Jamie Dimon and all the other bankers from the biggest banks are really concerned about. Here's a hint: it isn't US jobs, businesses, growth, employment or any of that. He and the rest of the too-big-to-fail banks are only concerned about making sure they are as unregulated as possible and that nothing, nothing, nothing gets in the way of continued excessive compensation.

That's why he isn't calling out the UK, Canada and Japan for being anti-American in their attempts to get a big loophole put in the Volcker Rule so that Jamie's bank and the other 4 biggest banks in the US can continue to prop trade in their sovereign debt. Why should foreign countries tell the US how its laws should be written? This is a particularly important question because these particular laws were passed to protect US taxpayers and the US treasury from the trillions in costs of another financial crisis. Yet, Jamie and all his fellow guard dogs against anti-Americanism are silent.

Thankfully, some disinterested experts have analyzed these claims and reveal them to be simply entirely baseless. For example, Simon Johnson, former Chief Economist at the IMF and current professor at the Sloan School of Management at MIT (among too many other things to list here), has a piece in the New York Times today that methodically takes apart these dangerous and destructive claims. Called "Mr. Volcker vs. the Bank of Canada," he clearly explains what is going on here:

Congress rightly decided that excessive risk-taking by very large banks had to be curtailed. Responsible regulators around the world are cheering from the sidelines, and that's why I was shocked to see the recent comment letter from the Bank of Canada that criticized the American law.
Importantly, Mr. Johnson points out that we're not just talking about Canada seeking a huge loophole in US financial regulation:

"Canada is not alone in seeking an exemption from the Volcker Rule. The European Union would like an exemption for the debt of its member governments, yet Greece is already effectively in default, and several other countries are likely to follow.... Some Japanese officials have expressed interest in an exemption from the Volcker Rule, yet Japan's net debt is reckoned to be more than 120 percent of gross domestic product. This is a highly indebted country, and it would be foolish to grant any kind of waiver from the Volcker Rule to a country with such a high debt level."

His conclusion is unassailable: "...regulators in the United States should ignore such selfish interests of foreign governments...." Frankly, such anti-American requests to put such a huge loophole in the law meant to protect US taxpayers should be rejected summarily unless the foreign countries agree in advance to pay for all US expenses from the next financial crisis if that loophole had anything to do with it. Mr. Johnson has some excellent suggestions for this as well.

So, where is Jamie Dimon and his concerns about anti-Americanism? If anyone was genuinely concerned about such things, they wouldn't stand for foreign governments telling the US how it should write laws, protect its own taxpayers and implement financial reform to prevent another financial catastrophe.

Jamie's silence tells you more about him than all his words put together.