Jamie Dimon has won big. JP Morgan Chase now stands alone, both in financial position and political clout – including special access to the White House and, as explained in today’s NYT, Rahm Emanuel’s likely attendance at his next board meeting tomorrow.
Dimon’s semiotics have been brilliant throughout the crisis – it wasn’t his fault, he was forced to take TARP money, and – in phrasing that will make the history books – bankers should not be “vilified”. But now he has a problem.
Larry Summers forcefully stated Friday that high recent profit levels for big banks (i.e., JPMorgan and Goldman) are based on the support they received and still receive from the government (listen to his answer to the second question, from about the 6:10 to 10:30 mark). At that level of generality, in a period of financial stabilization and consequent reduction in executive branch discretion, this statement does not threaten Dimon or anyone else.
And Summers’ statement on the dangers of “too big to fail” was “too vague to succeed”. Dimon saw this one coming and is very much aligned with Tim Geithner on the technocratic fixes that will supposedly take care of this – the mythical “resolution authority”, which will not actually achieve anything because it has no cross-border component, so the next time a major multinational bank (e.g., JP Morgan) fails, the choice again will be “collapse or bailout” (as Summers put it in the same Q&A Friday). Yes, I know the G20 is supposedly working on this; no, I don’t think they are making progress.
But Summers also drew a line in the sand on consumer protection. Continue reading