Jamie Dimon once held a special place on Wall Street, having shepherded JPMorgan through the financial crisis seemingly unscathed, and developing a special friendship with President Obama. But a lot has changed in the last year. JPMorgan will pay a $13 billion fine because of the bank's sale of mortgage-backed securities before the crisis. And, in a symbol of Dimon's fallen position, The Wall Street Journal reports on Monday that the White House literally put Jamie in a corner. In a meeting with bankers early in October:
JPMorgan's James Dimon found his name card on a seat in the corner, far from his usual perch across from President Barack Obama. Mr. Dimon, who in previous gatherings had been quick to share his opinions with the president, was reserved and said little during the meeting, according to people who attended.
Other chief executives saw Mr. Dimon's placement as a symbolic shift.
Many in the financial press find it outrageous that Dimon be blamed for the bank's problems, because the bank's successes are large. Alex Pareene, a politics writer at Salon, called for Dimon's firing in an exciting appearance on CNBC last month. His case for the bank dumping Dimon was:
I think that any time you're looking at the greatest fine in the history of Wall Street regulation, it's really worth asking should this guy stay in his job. In any other industry — I can’t think of another industry. If you managed a restaurant, and it got the biggest health department fine in the history of restaurants, no one would say, "Yeah, but the restaurant's making a lot of money. There’s only a little bit of poison in the food."
CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo and Fortune contributor Duff McDonald seemed a little shocked by Pareene's comments. They defended Dimon to the last. "The company continues to churn out tens of billions of dollars in earnings and hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue. How do you criticize that?" Bartiromo asked.
The New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin called out the "bloodlust of pundits" who "swirl around Jamie Dimon" in a Dealbook column last week. "What is Jamie Dimon's supposed firing offense?" he asks. According to "the people that matter," (i.e. investors), Dimon should absolutely keep his job. Marvin C. Schwartz, a managing director at Neuberger Berman and a longtime investor in JPMorgan, told Sorkin, "Jamie Dimon is one of the best CEO’s of any company in the world. It doesn’t mean you can’t have an accident. It’s totally unfair to say he inflicted this upon himself."
Dimon also has great ideas to strengthen the American economy, but Obama won't listen to him. Fox Business Network's Charles Gasparino wrote in the New York Post over the weekend that "Dimon's real sin, as I’ve pointed out on these pages before, was his withering critique of the Obama economic agenda, which he said was holding back the U.S. economy." Because of this criticism, Obama personally is fining JPMorgan to "make up more than half of the $24 billion cost of the government shutdown."
And the Justice Department's criminal probe of the bank continues, because, Reuters reports, "prosecutors are not yet certain of their findings." Dimon has "pleaded with and complained" to the Justice Department to stop the investigation, to no avail. It's not fair that the DOJ is on Dimon's tail, according to billionaire investor Warren Buffet. He put it this way in an interview with Sorkin on CNBC this weekend:
"If a cop follows you for 500 miles, you’re going to get a ticket. And you’ve had a lot of cops been following a long time and they’re going to write some tickets."