What Is Capitalism, By Jamie Dimon
Jessica Pressler has an interview with JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon at New York Mag and it’s so good. So good! There are many great soundbytes in it, but I think this one, in which Dimon basically explains why he thinks banks need to be Too Big To Fail, is particularly interesting:
“There are huge benefits to size,” he says instead, a distinct air of tired-of-this-shit creeping into his voice. “We bank Caterpillar in like 40 countries. We can do a $20 billion bridge loan overnight for a company that’s about to do a major acquisition. Size lets us build a $500 million data center that speeds up transactions and invest billions of dollars in products like ATMs and apps that allow your iPhone to deposit checks. We move $2 trillion a day, and you can see it by account, by company. These aren’t, like, little things. And they accrue to the customer. That’s what capitalism is.”
What’s pretty amazing to me from this interview is that EVEN THOUGH Dimon is obviously on a Tour of Apologies (“‘We’re still pleading guilty to being stupid and dumb, though,’ the PR guy sitting next to us interjects”), he still doesn’t seem all that apologetic?
This is basically How We Got Where We Are Today. It’s this attitude! Which is not evil or malicious, but still … not entirely good and right and honest about what The Banks have actually done to this country. Okay, he admits, they did some stuff wrong! But overall, the message is that they’re all good guys—American guys, doing American stuff, in America. And the question for The American People Is: Do we believe Dimon? Do we forgive him for this one thing and … let him keep on keeping on? (As Heidi N. Moore explains in this explainer: “They acknowledge it was stupid, but the bank has not indicated that it will stop this kind of activity in the future.”)
Because here’s the thing about JPMorgan Chase: They are still making money (they are still making So Much Money). As Dealbreaker’s Matt Levine said in a post on Friday: “JPMorgan lost $5.8 billion on whale-failing, and if you or I lost $5.8 billion we would probably be scaling back our vacation plans, but Jamie Dimon isn’t because JPMorgan had lots and lots more money where that came from. Capital!, in both senses of that exclamation.” Says Dimon: “We didn’t even lose money this quarter. We earned $5 billion. The analysts estimate us having a record year.”