Just a few years ago, Jamie Dimon was hailed as "the President's favorite banker." The New York Times praised him.
Not much later, however, Jamie was asking, "Why does The New York Times hate the banks?"
According to Jamie, that's unfair to the industry, because "not all bankers are the same." With grammatical athleticism worthy of Shakespeare, Jamie observes that "Sometimes there's a bad apple, so we denigrate the whole."
Point well taken! I'm sure Cam Fine and the ICBA could identify hundreds of community bankers who are not only revered but beloved by their customers.
So, let's look for the bad apple.
Jamie's in the spotlight, with his remarkable gift for hogging the limelight as poster boy for banks, and even for all of "the successful." He's been touted as a prospective Obama Secretary of the Treasury—although (or because?) he suggests that Washington swallow its bailout losses and butt out of telling banks what to do. Nevertheless, guess who "coordinated" the recent meeting of Fed Governor Tarullo with bankers in New York?
Apart from the tireless showboating, what's he actually done at JPMorgan Chase, where he's been CEO since 2005, having led a predecessor since 2000?
Jamie's most recent headlines revealed a $2 billion loss in Chase's chief investment office—a loss which is likely to increase, maybe double, as Chase struggles to liquidate its market-dominant position. Jamie attributes the loss to sloppy management, inadequate supervision. Maybe his eyes left the ball as he tirelessly preached to Washington and the industry.
But that's just last week's headline. Under Jamie's leadership, Chase has been successfully accused of cheating and customers in remarkably numerous and diverse ways.
Under the recent national mortgage settlement, Chase will pay over $1 billion to federal and state governments. Second only to Bank of America, which is paying largely for sins committed by Countrywide before Ken Lewis bought it.
Separately, Chase admitted to illegally foreclosing on armed services members.
In San Antonio, Jamie's rogue "legal" operation fomented suits against debtors based on incomplete or inaccurate bank records – as was extensively documented in American Banker. Do you see other banks that went this far out of bounds?
Chase has also settled a suit for illegally making automatically dialed calls to cell phones of people who didn't owe the bank money, and who had to pay for these calls.
Chase's excessively aggressive efforts to make people pay go well beyond lending. Chase paid more than $100 million in a class action settlement over allegations that it charged abusive overdraft fees. If you had a $100 checking balance and incurred a $20 debit card transaction followed by a $200 one, which Chase chose to pay, then Chase could treat the $200 transaction as having occurred first, even though it didn't—getting two overdraft fees instead of one.