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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/13/09

Stop the 'Vilification'? We've Only Just Begun.

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In a speech to the US Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, JP Morgan Chase CEO James L. “Jamie” Dimon said the banking system can recover by year end if US officials stop the “constant vilification of corporate America” and work with the financial sector to end the crisis. 

He doesn’t understand what all the criticism of Wall Street is about, he says, adding, “I would ask a lot of our folks in government to stop doing it because I think it’s hurting our country.” 

What a crock. 

Poor Jamie Dimon.  He don’t get no respect.  Jamie Dimon, the Rodney Dangerfield of American commerce.  Pretty soon, he will be casting himself as a victim. 

Jamie, THINK about what you just said.  Can you seriously believe that people’s criticism of you and your cronies is hurting the country?  More so than the mortgage-backed shell game you guys have been playing with real people’s real money so you could live like maharajahs? 

If you seriously think that ending the vilification of corporate America is a key to economic recovery, then you must also believe that such criticism materially contributed to our economic collapse.  Could that be true?  Did the conduct of the banking industry have nothing to do with it?  Were there no excesses in the financial community?  Did not the wizards of Wall Street take advantage of lax oversight to enormously enrich themselves at the expense of the entire American economy? 

Sorry, Jamie, but don’t look to us for sympathy or cooperation.  All you will get from us is a hearty fongool and a much-deserved Scalia salute until you guys learn that (in the immortal words of Jon Stewart): “It's not a f***ing game.” 

You have our vilification, all right, along with our derision and contempt.  As my Navy Chief used to say, “You have crapped in your hat.  Now you must put the hat on.” 

You want sympathy?  Ask the people whose homes have been foreclosed for it.  Or ask the people whose cars have been repossessed for it.  Ask the people who have no income for it.  They are easy enough to find: you’ll see them in line at any food bank.  Until recently, some of them even worked at your bank.   

If it’s cooperation you want, I know a guy who would be happy to oblige.  He has lost $313,000 in your company’s stock since October.  For you, that’s only about three days’ pay; for him, it was a key to his financial future.  Worse, his dividends were a nice supplement to his retirement income … before the dividend was cut by 87%.  He would love to cooperate with you, just to restore some of his savings and cash flow. 

His granddaughter will cooperate too.  She certainly has time on her hands: she could not go back to college this semester.  No student loans were available.  Now she and her grandfather are both looking for jobs. 

The Motley Fool gets it right: “Dimon ought to quit complaining about how he’s treated and be thankful.  In a lot of other places, in a lot of other times, his head would be on a pike, or looking up from a little straw basket at the next terrified face stuffed in the old French head-chopper.” 

Jamie says he doesn’t think much of mark-to-market accounting.  Funny thing: the Financial Animals liked mark-to-market accounting just fine when asset values were going up.  I see their point though: there are times when our fantasies are a lot more fun than our realities.  This is one of those times. 

Now Jamie wants to put a “systemic risk regulator” in place.  He calls for new procedures to deal with the potential failures of large financial institutions.  He wants the Federal Reserve to have the authority to regulate all companies in the banking system. 

Uh, Jamie?  Aren’t you a governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York?  Isn’t that what you should have been doing all along?  Do you now see things you could not see before?  And isn’t the Fed an integral part of the financial system you now believe it should regulate?  Why should we trust people who helped create the problem to now become part of the solution?

Of course, Jamie wants to be well thought of.  He wishes the housing market had not collapsed.  He wants things to be like they used to be.  He wants people to get off his back.   

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Rick Wise is an industrial psychologist and retired management consultant. For 15 years, he was managing director of ValueNet International, Inc. Before starting ValueNet, Rick was director, corporate training and, later, director, corporate (more...)
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