Seems like there's something for everyone in Jamie Dimon's letter to JP Morgan Chase shareholders. (And at 37 pages, there should be.)
While some are focusing on the CEO's apology for helping to ruin the economy or discussion of his succession planning, it is Dimon's defense of the role of big banks in the economy and of the contraction in lending that are attracting the most attention--not all of it favorable.
One of the most critical takes is at the blog Naked Capitalism, where Yves Smith writes, "At best, Jamie Dimon’s defense of too-big-to-fail banks like his own JP Morgan is a vivid illustration of Upton Sinclair’s saying, 'It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.' But Dimon’s patently self-serving argument is more likely part of a broader industry push to try to win over the public it just looted."
The Wall Street Journal's Deal Journal blog is only slightly less detracting. "Roughly 18 months after U.S. taxpayers bailed out the financial system, James Dimon is still looking at that proverbial gift horse in the mouth," Michael Corkery writes.
Corkery notes that while Dimon has always said his bank didn’t need the $25 billion in Tarp funding, he goes a bit further in his letter the shareholders, saying he regrets the bank tapped the FDIC’s guarantee program to issue $40 billion of debt. The cost of accepting the funding was that politicians and the public got the impression that all banks needed a bailout.
But some other publications think Dimon is just telling it like it is. Forbes said Dimon "deserves credit for speaking the truth about the reality of lending in America ... The populist sentiment is that the banks were bailed out to keep credit flowing and the banks are not keeping up their end of the bargain. But as Dimon points out, 'banks are lending--a little less but more responsibly.'"
The magazine notes that Dimon "also appears to use the letter to build the foundation for an argument against the Volcker Rule."
Similarly, the blog 24/7 Wall Street says that "politics aside," Dimon is right. "If you read through this letter without prejudice (if possible) and if you overlook the word 'demonized' used once and a couple of other points, this letter to shareholders does outline much of the problems of today and the past AND outlines some of the solutions," Jon C. Ogg writes.
SeekingAlpha is positively glowing, calling Dimon's letter "What [Warren] Buffet should have written, but didn't."