Dimon Decries Washington?s Treatment of Banks

Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, says he believes Washington has become increasingly erratic and unfair in its treatment of the banks over the last few months, and he now has some regrets about participating in the government?s Troubled Asset Relief Program.
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?F.D.I.C. is going to cost us a lot of money. TARP cost us a lot of money. This bank tax, my first reaction was, ?That will cost us a lot of money,?? Mr. Dimon said Thursday at the bank?s annual Investor Day conference in New York. ?I think we are getting into the capricious, arbitrary and punitive behavior.?

Mr. Dimon said he did not know whether he would have taken the $25 billion that the government lent to JPMorgan during the 2008 financial crisis to bolster its capital if he knew then how troublesome the TARP money would be for the bank.

?The mistake was we let the government and the politicians not differentiate between irresponsible companies and prudent companies, from irresponsible, imprudent, and everybody got lumped together in the same boat,? Mr. Dimon said ?Yes, a lot of those companies needed TARP to survive, and yes, a lot did not.?

Mr. Dimon has expressed some of these complaints before. During JPMorgan?s earnings conference call in January, he said it was unfair that the big banks would be the only ones forced to pay the Obama administration?s proposed bank tax to ensure that all the TARP money is repaid.

Mr. Dimon said Thursday at the Investor Day conference that he supported certain new regulations to secure the financial system, but not all of them. He said JPMorgan had always supported the creation of a systemic risk regulator, which would be controlled by the Federal Reserve, to monitor the largest and most interconnected banks in the nation.

He disagreed with one proposal to create a separate agency devoted to consumer protection, which would regulate a whole host of activities from mortgages to credit cards.

?We want better consumer protection; we just don?t want a new agency. We think it should be done by the O.C.C. and the Fed,? Mr. Dimon said, referring to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

?Yes, you can say they didn?t do a great job, but they are professional people,? he said. The elegant solution is for Congress to tell them do a better job.?

Mr. Dimon may get his wish, thanks to some persuasive lobbyists in Washington. Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said last month that he might drop demands for a new agency after pushing for its creation.

Thursday was certainly a day for JPMorgan to express its concerns about regulatory changes in Washington. Earlier in the day, James E. Staley, the bank?s investment banking chief, acknowledged that regulatory changes being considered in Congress had influenced the bank?s acquisition strategy.

? Cyrus Sanati