Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dimon may well be right, and Carlos Tevez is a reliable employee

Words fail me.

Oh, alright, here goes. Steven Rattner in the FT understands Jamie Dimon's bad mood, but gently reminds him that 'the rage of the citizenry demands tough new bank rules'. If only that were the problem.

Tough new bank rules are required because people like Jamie Dimon have enriched themselves beyond belief at the expense of the real economy, and will do it again given half the chance. I honestly don't want to live in the Mad Max world which would follow another round of hyper-leveraged madness from Dimon and his friends.

The striking thing about Rattner's tone - beyond the sycophancy - is the absurd expression of sympathy towards one of the most unaccountable and powerful individuals in the world. Rattner 'feels his pain' because JPMorgan 'conducted itself more responsibly than most of its peers.'

Sure, JP Morgan didn't go bust itself, but it would have done had governments allowed its counterparties to fold. And 'conducting yourself better' than other insolvent financial institutions is not a big ask. But above all, JPMorgan is one of the select bunch of too-big-to-fail institutions that would have to be bailed out if things went wrong. So how on earth can it be considered 'unfair' for Morgan to be subjected to the same rules facing the other major participants in the casino? He may have a point about shadow banking, but that point is better made if you at least are playing by the rules you demand for others.

Jamie Dimon's $16 million pay package (2010, sans bonus) is not the ideal pulpit for demanding a 'level playing field'. It is instead a measure of how the masters of the universe have entirely lost touch with the miserable reality facing the rest of us. Until some evidence of the social usefulness of Jamie Dimon can be found, I think we're entitled to view his opinion as a particularly tasteless case of chutzpah.