Oh how much class the ruling class have. On a conference call with investors and analysts JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon displayed the kind of wit and grace one could only expect from the truly refined – not only agreeing to answer a mere peasant’s question but offering illumination into his heavenly projection into the boundless stratosphere of plutocracy.
At a J.P. Morgan investor event this week Mike Mayo, an analyst at CLSA, who has been a critic of large banks and, at times, Dimon, asked if J.P. Morgan wasn’t at a competitive disadvantage compared to more highly capitalized peers.
Mayo: I think what I hear UBS saying in the presentation is that if I’m an affluent customer I’ll feel a lot better going to UBS if they have 13.5 (percent) capital ratio than another big bank with a 10 percent ratio. Do you agree with that?
Dimon: You would go to UBS and not JPMorgan?
Mayo: I didn’t say that. That’s their argument.
Dimon: That’s why I’m richer than you.
Laughter, perhaps embarrassed, perhaps of the schoolyard variety, ensues.
Beyond the arrogance is something equally offensive. Dimon is right, he did get rich having low capital ratios – which is why his form of banking is dangerous. It’s the precise reason the banks could not protect themselves during the crisis, they were over-leveraged.
The real issue isn’t who is rich, but rather whose interests are being fairly served and whose aren’t. Dimon’s approach gives short shrift to both shareholders and taxpayers. Taxpayers still carry substantial risks for which they are not being compensated, a state that will only change when regulations are tightened, and hopefully vastly simplified.
Shareholders do badly because the kind of bank Dimon runs is prone to loss and volatility, leading markets to set a low value on the bank’s earnings.
So congratulations on how rich you are Mr. Dimon, the rest of us are paying for it.