Jamie Dimon: Don't Be Hatin' On Bankers When It's All YOUR Fault!

Jamie Dimon kicked off his Sunday morning appearance on Fareed Zakaria's show with a bit of whine about how mean, mean, mean we all are to bankers. He kicks things right off by blaming the victims: DIMON: OK. In the United States of America, only
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Jamie Dimon kicked off his Sunday morning appearance on Fareed Zakaria's show with a bit of whine about how mean, mean, mean we all are to bankers. He kicks things right off by blaming the victims:

DIMON: OK. In the United States of America, only one-third of credit is provided by banks. Bank lending actually went up after Lehman Brothers failed, not down. It's a huge misconception. Two- thirds of credit is provided by individuals, corporations, pension plans, you know, et cetera. The huge reduction in credit supplied was the credit supplied in directly to the marketplace. In fact, if you go to any place around the world, you ask people, did you do something more conservative with your money after Lehman went down? Which everyone says, yes.

I would say, well, you caused the crisis. You got scared. You ran. It's perfectly legitimate as an individual protecting yourself. And JPMorgan last year lent or financed $1.4 trillion for corporations, individual around the world, up pretty substantially from the year before and I believe substantially from the year before that.

Really, Jamie Dimon? REALLY? We caused the crisis how? Were we the ones playing high stakes games with mortgages, lending money to people based on fraudulent, jacked up valuations and credit histories and then selling them off to the likes of YOU to gamble? Um no. Not so much.

Funny how the story changes. When he testified before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, he said this:

"Reflecting on the causes of the crisis, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan testified to the FCIC, "I blame the management teams 100% and...no one else. (Page 18)"

Or here, where he realizes what gambling with those brokered subprime loans cost JP Morgan (Page 91):

"JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon testified to the FCIC that his firm eventually ended its [mortgage] broker-originated business in 2009 after discovering the loans had more than twice the losses of the loans that JP Morgan itself originated."

Of course, 2009 was too late. Everything had gone to hell in handbasket by then, so rippy-rah-hoo for Jamie Dimon's stellar fiduciary standards.

Or here, where he's talking about how they were shocked -- SHOCKED -- to discover that home prices just don't keep rising when markets collapse (Page 111):

"Jamie Dimon...told the Commission, 'In mortgage underwriting, somehow we just missed, you know, that home prices don't go up forever and that it's not sufficient to have stated income."

Gosh darn it. They just "missed it." Really. Well, here's what the FCIC had to say about that (page 111):

In the end, companies in subprime and Alt-A mortgages had, in essence, placed all their chips on black: they were betting that home prices would never stop rising. This was the only scenario that would keep the mortgage machine humming..."

They needed to keep that mortgage machine humming to stuff their pockets full of money, of course. FCIC report, page 113:

"For commercial banks such as Citigroup, warehouse lending was a multibillion-dollar business. From 2000 to 2010, Citigroup made available at any one time as much as $7 billion in warehouse lines of credit to mortgage originators..."

And finally, another example of self-confessed cluelessness (page 295):

Before Bear's collapse, the market had not really understood the colossal exposures that the tri-party repo market created for these clearing banks...In an interview with the FCIC, Dimon said that he had not become fully aware of the risks stemming from his bank's tri-party repo clearing business until the Bear crisis in 2008.

The report goes on to say that once Dimon and his cohorts realized what their exposure was, they put the squeeze on tri-party repo borrowers by forcing them to overcollateralize, which left them with less to lend, which poured down on businesses, and individuals, and anyone else who might have needed to borrow money.

But hey, it's all our fault because we didn't really like losing nearly half of what we had in investments we thought were "safe". Way to state it there, Jamie.

(h/t Digby)

Full transcript follows:

JAMIE DIMON, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, JPMORGAN CHASE: Not all bankers are the same. And I just think this constant refrain -- bankers, bankers, bankers, it's just -- it just doesn't -- it's really an unproductive and unfair way of treating people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAKARIA: At the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, I presided over a panel of some of the world's top businessmen. They were all extremely thoughtful, but I was most taken by what Jamie Dimon said. He's, of course, the Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase. Dimon and his company emerged unscathed from the financial crisis, in fact, with both their reputations enhanced.

If you want to hear what Jaime Dimon had to say about the state of the U.S. economy, the job problem, Europe and why he thinks he and his fellow bankers get a bad rap.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ZAKARIA: There is still, as you know, if you look at polls -- polls in the United States, still a widespread feeling in the United States that the taxpayers bailed out the banks and the banks are not helping the taxpayers, they're paying themselves big bonuses, but that lending has actually contracted in aggregate. You may be up over the last year, but overall, if you look at the amount of lending, which is $7 trillion, you're still at about 2005 levels.

What do you say to the average American taxpayer who says, guys, we bailed you out, now -- now give us, you know, do something in return?

DIMON: OK. In the United States of America, only one-third of credit is provided by banks. Bank lending actually went up after Lehman Brothers failed, not down. It's a huge misconception. Two- thirds of credit is provided by individuals, corporations, pension plans, you know, et cetera. The huge reduction in credit supplied was the credit supplied in directly to the marketplace. In fact, if you go to any place around the world, you ask people, did you do something more conservative with your money after Lehman went down? Which everyone says, yes.

I would say, well, you caused the crisis. You got scared. You ran. It's perfectly legitimate as an individual protecting yourself. And JPMorgan last year lent or financed $1.4 trillion for corporations, individual around the world, up pretty substantially from the year before and I believe substantially from the year before that.

Most banks are lending quite a bit. But remember, some of them are gone. The ones who are gone are no longer lending. So obviously there's been a reduction. So you may talk to people saying, I can't get money and they be that standards have loosened up in the last year, but they have not -- they have not tightened up.

So banks are -- we are lending aggressively into corporates, to middle market, small business lending up 30 percent. There is, if you talk to most, there's a demand issue. A lot of them don't need the money because they're not -- because they're not building inventory, not building plans, they're not building -

You know, a lot of these people have tons of cash. They're not -- they don't need to call up their banks because they've got plenty of money right now. So -

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about one more consequence of the crisis, if I may, which is -

DIMON: There's a huge misconception, in which not all banks needed that T.A.R.P. You know, not all banks would have failed. And right here, a lot of policy makers and regulation makers -- that one assumption drive so much the anger that they would have failed. I can tell you a lot of banks were stabilizing this problem.

JPMorgan bought Bear Stearns because the United States government asked us to. We bought -- we bought not because we wanted to. Wells Fargo bought Wachovia. HSBC was (INAUDIBLE). And I can go bank after bank who's a stabilizing force, trying to make up for the fact that there are other failures.

So we -- we lump everyone together like -- and I think it is a terrible thing to do. I don't lump all media together. There's good and there's bad. There's irresponsible and ignorant and there are really smart media.

Well, not all bankers are the same. And I just think this constant refrain -- bankers, bankers, bankers, it's just -- it just doesn't -- it's really an unproductive and unfair way of treating people. And I just think people should stop doing that. I think that denigrates everything. Not all companies are the same, not all CEOs are the same, not all media is the same. And so I -- we try to do the best we can every day.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about another consequence of this -- of this crisis. It has been to concentrate assets among the top banks. JPMorgan, Citigroup, Bank of America now represent 30 percent of all assets. You have about $2 trillion in deposit.

It strikes me that the net effect of the -- of what has happened, is you're not too big to fail, you're way too big to fail.

DIMON: Yes. So it's 30 percent of all deposits in America. America is far less concentrated than Europe, Asia, Canada, Australia, France, U.K., Italy, I mean, way less concentrated. There are reasons for -- it kind of just scale (ph), stuff like that.

I wish -- I believe that when we start talking about resolution authority, that we should, the governments, the regulation should be able to take down a JPMorgan in a way that doesn't damage citizens of the world. I also think the banks should pay for that. Like in the FDIC, when banks fail, the FDIC takes them over and kind of liquidates them and the rest of the banks pay for that. We're going to pay $5 billion, the FDIC, if a failure of other banks.

I -- instead of calling it resolution, I think we should have called it minimally damaging bankruptcy for big dumb banks. Take them down, wipe them out, full bankruptcy, unsecured creditors pay. And that's -- that's what they're trying to get to, which is a little complex. It can be done. That's what the FDIC did with big banks for many years. Now we've become global.

So I understand, if you're a regulator, you need to say, OK, what can I do in the U.K.? What can I do in France? Can I protect myself? The answer is you can. It's a little complicated, but it can be done and that's the better way to do it. Let these companies fail. Put them in a position they can all fail and the world is fine.

ZAKARIA: Could JPMorgan fail without systemic risk in the United States today?

DIMON: Yes. If it's set up properly, the answer is yes. So -- and the other thing I remembered, Lehman -- if the Lehman Brothers had failed in 2000 -- there's the thing about complex systems. If Lehman Brothers have failed in 2005, I don't think it would have caused this crisis.

I guess it was cumulative trauma after -- you had problems in Germany, you had problems in Britain, you had problems in the United States, and the United States was the epicenter. I'm not going to deny that. But it was -- AIG, WaMu, mortgage brokers and it was around the world. And so things would be very different if -- if they were set up so that they could be handled.

Lehman Brothers had $200 billion of unsecured debt. If at the point of failure that unsecured debt had been turned into equity, Lehman would have 200 billion of equity and 600 billion of assets and it would have been fine.

ZAKARIA: Larry Summers on my program said financial industry fought this reform tooth and nail. They've spent a million dollars on each congressman, four lobbyists for every congressmen. Is this financial reform change things?

DIMON: You know, I love Larry. A ridiculous statement, OK?

First of all -- first of all, it's a free -- I remind these people all the time that's it's a in a democracy you have the right to petition your government. It's in the number one amendment in the U.S. Bill of Rights. Most of that lobbyists are own people. When I go to Washington, it counts as lobbying time and they have to add it up and, you know, whatever -- how they would calculate and stuff like that.

We didn't fight financial reform, OK? We wanted resolution authority. We thought there should be oversight committees. We thought (INAUDIBLE) should go to clearing houses. We thought there should be better consumer protection. We fought the parts of the reform we thought were irrational. That's all.

You know, it's not like you were for or against reform. There's a -- I complete -- we completely acknowledge (ph) the need for massive reform after what happened. Totally, absolutely. But, you know, some of the stuff that got done which is not rational. So we at first to say we're supposed to bend down and accept it because we're a bank, I say that's not fair.

So -- and Larry knows the detail too. He knows some of these things. That he didn't support all of the reform. If he would stand up here, he would agree with me, there are a lot of things that -- that had nothing to do with him, which is, you know, people in Congress coming up with their own ideas and what would make sense.

ZAKARIA: All right. Jamie Dimon's proposed resolution authority, for those of you who didn't catch it is the MDBBDB, minimally damaging bankruptcy for big dumb banks. Somehow I feel, Jamie, that you're a great banker, but you haven't come up with a good acronym for legislation.

h/t Heather at Video Cafe for the clip.

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