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Jamie Dimon: Behind JPMorgan Chase

Jamie Dimon: Behind JPMorgan Chase

We all know how controversial – and vocal – Jamie Dimon is. But if you think you know everything about the man at the helm of JPMorgan Chase, you might find yourself surprised at the complexities of Wall Street’s rebel.

In many ways, Jamie Dimon is to banking what the fictional J.R. Ewing is to Texas oil. He’s brass, arrogant, aggressive – and he makes things happen, despite any opposition. Dimon is a third generation banker, with his grandfather who, upon arriving in the U.S, quickly changed the family name from Papademetrious to Dimon.

The Early Years

By the time Dimon was ready to move forward with college, he was prepared and indeed, received the kind of education that opens doors. He majored in psychology for awhile before making up his mind that his passion – his true passion – is found in the financial sector. He attended Harvard Business, Tufts University, along with other renowned colleges; once he emerged from his collegiate life, he’d turned his attention to his career.

Soon, he’d be the power force behind the merger that brought Chase Manhattan from near-chaos and he played a role in the merger between Chase and Bank One. At that time, he was working for Bank One and to reward him for his hard work bringing the two entities together, he found himself in a very lucrative position as the leader of the JPMorgan Chase conglomerate. Dimon had also worked for American Express before opting for his position with Bank One.

Dimon is driven – and he has no shortage of both enemies and supporters. Dimon was vehemently opposed to the passage of the Dodd Frank bill and the subsequent changes that came about as a result of the passage of the law. Needless to say, there’s a good chance he’s hoping Mitt Romney takes the White House after the November elections, but he and President Obama are said to be close. In fact, Dimon was on the shortlist for Secretary of Treasury, though Tim Geithart ultimately ended up in that role.

CFPB and Dimon,

Dimon is also opposed to the consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He believes there’s no need for a consumer watchdog, even though the bureau has made impressive strives since being put into place. Instead of embracing a bridge of sorts between consumers and their financial products, specifically credit cards, Dimon has been vocal with his disdain.

JPMorgan would be fine if we stopped talking about the damn nationalization of banks. We’ve got plenty of capital. To policymakers, I say where were they…they’re beating up on everyone, saying look at all these mistakes, and we’re going to come and fix it.

There are few things Dimon hasn’t had his hand in. He’s worked for all of the big banks and other financial institutions, including Morgan Stanley, Smith Barney, Primerica and many others.

Last year, Dimon took a call from Geithart. The request that was made of Dimon is one that’s come back to haunt him. Geithart, according to Dimon, wanted JPMorgan to buy out Bear Stearns, the subprime mortgage lender that many say is responsible for the mortgage collapse that eventually led to one of the darkest economic times in our nation’s history. Dimon declined. He said he knew it was worthless. Soon, though, he changed his mind. That decision in late 2008 has now come back to haunt him as he’s facing a lawsuit by the same government that asked him to bail the lender out. There’s a lot of finger pointing, accusations and, of course, Dimon’s words – completely unfiltered, brutally to the point and with no cares of who might take offense.


Another controversial decision includes the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Dimon had been insisting his bank had no purpose for the funds the government begged him to take anyway because it didn’t want the truly troubled banks to be identified. Dimon, again, says he fought it, but eventually gave in to the government’s second request in as many years. He agreed to accept $25 billion in TARP funds from the U.S. Treasury Department. Dimon kept insisting the government made him accept the funds. Those funds have since been repaid.

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying Dimon’s carved his place in the banking industry. Still, he’s facing many challenges in the coming months, including investigations, allegations of money laundering, the massive multi billion dollar mortgage securities deal that went sour and a host of other political and financial problems. His aggressive nature and definitive statements are turning heads and with so many banking scandals, there are few bank CEOs that haven’t been affected – including Dimon.

Still, Dimon has a winning formula of being able to stay out of the line of fire and ultimately, coming out of it more powerful than he was before. Meanwhile, Dimon continues to blame consumers for the mortgage crash that resulted in the recession,

…it was the mortgages themselves that caused the problems.

It could be that the only threat to Dimon is if something unexpected is uncovered during the multiple simultaneous investigations.

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