JPM's Dimon Sounds Off on Regulators, Succession and Treasury Job

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Jamie Dimon won't be the next Treasury secretary — and he says he doesn't want the job, anyway.

"I don't believe I'm suited to it, I don't believe a CEO from Wall Street could get confirmed, and it's not what I want to do — I love my company," Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase (JPM), said Wednesday.

Dimon has long been on some wish lists of industry-friendly candidates to replace current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who is expected to step down soon. But few seriously expect Dimon to get the nod. His onetime warm relationship with President Obama turned frosty during the long fight over the Dodd-Frank Act and other increases in regulation of financial services.

Dimon, rarely one to mince words, still seems to be holding a grudge.

"My experience in life is the regulators always win anyway," he said at a conference hosted by The New York Times.

When asked about the state of his current relationship with Obama, Dimon shot back, "It's fine. … I'm still barely a Democrat."

JPMorgan Chase, the country's largest bank, has also been in the rhetorical crosshairs this year, after losing some $6 billion in trades in its London office this spring. The loss helped restart the debate over whether the largest U.S. banks are too big and complex to be managed well, and led Dimon to restructure his management team after some of the executives responsible for the loss left.

"I am very proud of JPMorgan Chase … and yes, every now and then we make a mistake or we have a bad person. No one at JPMorgan Chase condones bad behavior," Dimon said. "It happens, and you can't taint every institution the same, nor should you taint everyone within an institution because of bad apples."

Starting this summer, Dimon promoted several insiders to more prominent roles at the bank and pushed some of his senior executives upstairs. Chief Financial Officer Doug Braunstein was one of the casualties, and is now preparing to take a vice chairman role  and cede his spot to consumer bank CFO Marianne Lake.

Dimon said Wednesday that the management changes were long planned and part of the bank's natural succession planning, though he acknowledged that the London Whale affair played a role.

"If I don't move up the people who could be my successor, I could lose them," he said. "The Whale accelerated certain things, but the actual changes had very little to do with the Whale.  … It caused a little bit of turmoil, a little too much — hopefully we'll have more stability going forward –but the team itself is excellent."

Dimon also took issue with criticisms of the financial industry's lobbying clout in Washington.

The right to lobby is "in the First Amendment," he said, calling the perception that corporate interests run Washington "absurd. … We all debate.  That's the political process."

He also weighed in on the hot topic of banker compensation, which has been under increasing scrutiny and regulation since the financial crisis.

"We're going to pay people well and competitively. I need to do that for my shareholders," he said.

"We all want an equitable society … but what makes it equitable?" Dimon added, in response to a question about general income inequality. "It does not mean that people don't have to pay people what they're worth. If you don't want a free society, then start dictating what compensation could be."

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(Image: Bloomberg News)

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