JPM's Jamie Dimon and Business as Usual

by: The Baseline Scenario

By Simon Johnson

If you think that the power of the banking industry may be in decline, or that its leaders are humbled, or that any kind of major change is underway, please review carefully Jamie Dimon’s speech from Wednesday, March 11 (available on Bloomberg.com).

Mr. Dimon, who runs JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), makes it clear that he has great respect and appreciation for all that Hank Paulson did for the financial sector. He also strongly implies that it is time for the government to stop worrying about what approach to adopt; as far as he is concerned, the time for wrangling and figuring out what went wrong is over and the time for really big transfers of taxpayer value is now.

There is no sense here that anything much has changed. Sure, we’ve lost some banks, we’re in a big recession, and everything we thought sensible for banks in terms of regulation / risk management / corporate governance lies in tatters. But it is obvious, from the words, tone, and body language of Mr. Dimon, that he thinks his side has won and it is back to business as usual, albeit now with a somewhat larger market share. On all of this, he probably has inside information.