Jamie Dimon, often cited at the most responsible head of a Wall Street investment bank, reigned as Chairman and CEO of JP Morgan Chase today.
In a blistering letter published this morning in Britian’s Financial News, Dimon says he is tired of working in the “bankrupt moral culture” of finance and called for a criminal investigation into wrongdoing at JP Morgan and other major investment banks.
“For too long I have been a witness to what I consider to be unethical and sometimes even illegal behavior at the highest levels of Wall Street,” the letter reads. “I thought that I could change the system from the inside. But over the past few years I have been proven wrong.
“Despite the concerted effort of myself and my closest staff, the recent losses at our Chief Investment Office and the global LIBOR scandal show that firms such as JP Morgan have simply become too big to manage.
“For that reason I am resigning from my posts as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of JP Morgan Chase effective at noon EST today. And I urge global regulators to introduce new rules seeking to limit the size of scope of the largest international financial institutions.”
Long recognized as a less corrupt institution than competing banks such as Goldman Sachs and Barclays, JP Morgan has come under fire in recent months for a number of trading scandals. Most notably the bank lost over $6 billion on bad derivatives bets in the notorious London Whale fiasco.
But in his resignation letter Dimon did not limit his reasoning to recent events, explaining that he is disgusted by the behavior of investment banks during the financial crisis.
“Over four years has passed since the greatest financial collapse in the history of this nation,” Diamond recounts, “and still no one on Wall Street has been held accountable for the crimes which have been committed.
“Washington says they can’t find one single banker guilty of fraud. I can think of 15 people off the top of my head who should be behind bars.
“Why aren’t more people in jail? If you rob a bank, you go to jail. If a bank robs you, it gets a bailout. We need to end this cycle of impunity on Wall Street. And I am prepared to testify against my fellow bankers if need be.
“I don’t know why I’ve held my nose for so long. Honestly it was probably the money. But I started doing yoga last month, and have been thinking about researching Buddhism. I’m ready to turn over a new leaf, and find something else besides money upon which to base my self-worth and value as a human being. ”
House of Cards
Dimon says he’s not surprised by the lack of inaction in Washington, given the symbiotic nexus of corruption between political actors and big banks.
“Let me explain how this system works,” Dimon writes. “Politicians protect us from competition and criminal prosecution, and in return we give them money to use in their campaigns.
“There’s only one word to describe such an arrangement: bribery. And you know what’s really insane? Its not even illegal. Those idiots in Washington actually write laws regulating the manner in which they would like to be bribed.
“Only $2,000 per person, unless its funneled into a SuperPac or whatever or into a primary fund versus a general election fund…I mean who cares how much goes into which account? Its all just corruption plain and simple. And sadly I have been a part of it.”
Plus Ça Change
Financial equities analyst Ferdinand Pecora says Dimon’s resignation and public rant against Wall Street could change the financial sector, but its impact will likely be limited.
“If even Jamie Dimon is calling for jailing bankers, you would think the FBI and SEC would at least start investigating,” Pecora says. “But they’ve ignored every other clue they’ve gotten so far about financial crime, so I don’t expect things to change.
“Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan…these companies have nothing to fear from the government. Jamie Dimon is just one man. The banks own thousands of lobbyists, congressmen, and government regulators. They’ll be just fine.”
Carter Glass, a political analyst for the Center for American Progress, agrees that Dimon’s cri de coeur won’t change a thing.
“It’s great that someone has finally mustered the courage to take on the banks,” Glass explains. “But we’ve got an election next year in Congress. Our lawmakers aren’t gonna piss off the people who pay their bills.”
Admitting that the chances of affecting change on Wall Street are slim, Dimon writes that he’s already planning for a simpler life.
“I’ll will be retiring to South-East Alaska, where I will run a small salmon fishing operation cum Bikram yoga retreat. If anyone in D.C. is interested in bringing criminal bankers to justice, just give me a call.”