Davos 2011: JP Morgan boss hits out at 'banker bashing'

Padang Ekspres.net-The head of JP Morgan has delivered a furious tirade against "banker bashing", complaining that the entire industry is being tarred with the same brush and implying that bankers have become political whipping boys.

Jamie Dimon, one of Wall Street's best known and most respected chief executives, told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos that there was a "huge misconception" that all banks ran into trouble during the financial crisis. In fact, he said, JP Morgan and its stronger rivals were "stabilising" influences and he insisted that banks would not "bend down and accept" abuse.

"Not all banks needed the Tarp [US government bailout money]. Not all banks would have failed," said Dimon. "That one assumption drives a lot of arguments."

Dimon, who was once characterised as Barack Obama's favourite Wall Street banker but who fell out with the administration over financial reform, made clear his fury at the tone of public, political and media attacks on banks.

"This really is a terrible thing to do," said Dimon. "I don't lump all the media together. There's good, there's bad, there's smart, there's responsible, there's irresponsible media. I don't put them all together. It's an unproductive and unfair way of treating people."

He said blanket assaults on the industry "denigrate" everybody: "Not all companies are the same, not all chief executives are the same, not all media are the same. We try to do our best every day."

JP Morgan, which employs more than 200,000 people globally including about 17,000 in Britain, was among the more profitable financial players throughout the credit crunch. When smaller rival Bear Stearns failed in March 2008, JP Morgan bought the business to rescue it from bankruptcy – an act, Dimon said, that was at the behest of Washington: "JP Morgan bought Bear Stearns because the US government asked us to."

He reminded an audience of business chiefs and policymakers that JP Morgan subsequently bought another struggling US high street lender, Washington Mutual, to help stabilise the financial system.

On a panel moderated by the CNN presenter Fareed Zakaria, Dimon went on to hit out at president Obama's former economic adviser, Larry Summers, who recently accused banks of spending $1m per congressman in lobbying efforts to oppose financial regulatory reform in the US.

"In a democracy, you have the right to petition government – it's in the number one amendment," said Dimon, who accused Summers of making "ridiculous" statements. The JP Morgan chief said banks had supported certain aspects of reform – including so-called resolution authority easing the process of winding down failing institutions. But he said the industry fought reforms that were "irrational".

"I can acknowledge the need for massive reforms after what happened," said Dimon. "But to suggest we're supposed to just bend down and accept it because we're banks – that's not fair."


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