JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon: ‘We Actually Benefit From Downturns’
Posted: 02/26/2013 11:47 am EST | Updated: 02/26/2013 6:53 pm EST
Like most soft-spined Americans, you probably have painful memories of the financial crisis and consequent recession. Perhaps you even think of those things as “bad.” Fortunately, Jamie Dimon is not like the rest of you losers.
That is because, unlike you, Jamie Dimon is CEO of JPMorgan Friggin’ Chase, America’s greatest bank, which just so happens to snack on financial crises and recessions like so much KIND bar.
“This bank is anti-fragile, we actually benefit from downturns,” Dimon bragged to his bank’s investors at a conference on Tuesday.
And it is true! The bank definitely benefited from the last downturn. It got to buy Bear Stearns in a government-backed fire sale, getting itself a brokerage business on the cheap in exchange for shouldering only a few tiresome legal burdens. It also got billions of dollars in government handouts, from $25 billion in TARP funds to billions in savings from low-interest-rate borrowing programs to a permanent subsidy arising from the idea that the government will bail out the bank if it ever gets in trouble.
That permanent subsidy amounts to about $17 billion per year, according to a recent Bloomberg View study, representing nearly all of the bank’s profits. No other bank gets such a large subsidy, according to Bloomberg’s study (although, to be fair, some find Bloomberg’s methods unsound, to quote from Jamie Dimon’s favorite movie).
Of course, this may not have been the sort of benefit Dimon was talking about. Instead, he has repeatedly opined that his bank thrived — was in fact a “port in the storm” — during the downturn simply because it was so gigantic.
Funny enough, JPMorgan is sometimes not at its tip-top best when things are actually looking up. For example, it managed to lose $6 billion on credit default swaps last year, at a time when markets were doing just fine. So maybe “anti-fragile” is not the best term for JPMorgan?