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Josh Brown takes the JPM CEO to school:

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Dear Jamie Dimon,

I hope this note finds you well.

I am writing to profess my utter disbelief at how little you seem to understand the current mood of the nation. In a story at Bloomberg today, you and a handful of fellow banker and billionaire “job creators” were quoted as believing that the horrific sentiment directed toward you from virtually all corners of America had something to do with how much money you had. I’d like to take a moment to disabuse you of this foolishness.

America is different than almost every other place on earth in that its citizenry reveres the wealthy and we are raised to believe that we can all one day join the ranks of the rich. The lack of a caste system or visible rungs of society’s ladder is what separates our empire from so many fallen empires throughout history. In a nation bereft of royalty by virtue of its republican birth, the American people have done what any other resourceful people would do – we’ve created our own royalty and our royalty is the 1%. Not only do we not “hate the rich” as you and other em-bubbled plutocrats have postulated, in point of fact, we love them. We worship our rich to the point of obsession. The highest-rated television shows uniformly feature the unimaginably fabulous families of celebrities not to mention the housewives (real or otherwise) of the rich. We don’t care what color they are or what religion they practice or where in the country they live or what channel their show is on – if they’re rich, we are watching.

When Derek Jeter was toyed with by the New York Yankees when it came time for him to renew his next hundred million dollar contract, the people empathized with Derek Jeter. Sure, this disagreement essentially took place between one of the wealthiest organizations in the country and one of the wealthiest private citizens – but we rooted for Jeter to get his money. Nobody begrudged him a penny of it or wanted a piece of it or decried the fact that he was luckier than the rest of us. In the American psyche, Jeter was one of the good guys who was deservedly successful. He was one of us and an example of hard work paying off.

Likewise, when Steve Jobs died, he did so with more money than you or any of your “job alliance” buddies – ten times more than most of you, in fact. And upon his death the entire nation went into mourning. We set up makeshift shrines to his brilliance in front of Apple stores from coast to coast. His biography flew off the shelves and people bought Apple products and stock shares in his honor and in his memory. Does that strike you as the action of a populace that hates success?

No, Jamie, it is not that Americans hate successful people or the wealthy. In fact, it is just the opposite. We love the success stories in our midst and it is a distinctly American trait to believe that we can all follow in the footsteps of the elite, even though so few of us ever actually do.

So, no, we don’t hate the rich. What we hate are the predators.

What we hate are the people who we view as having found their success as a consequence of the damage their activities have done to our country. What we hate are those who take and give nothing back in the form of innovation, convenience, entertainment or scientific progress. We hate those who’ve exploited political relationships and stupidity to rake in even more of the nation’s wealth while simultaneously driving the potential for success further away from the grasp of everyone else.

Here in New York, we hated watching real estate and financial services elitists drive up the prices of everything from affordable apartments to martinis in midtown with the reckless speculation that would eventually lead to mass layoffs, rampant joblessness and the wreckage of so many retirement dreams. No one ever asked the rest of us if we minded, it just happened. I’m sure people across the country can tell similar stories.

So please, do us all a favor and come to the realization that the loathing you feel from your fellow Americans has nothing to do with your “success” or your “wealth” and it has everything to do with the fact that your wealth and success have come at a cost to the rest of us. No one wants your money or opportunities, what they want is the same chance that their parents had to attain these things for themselves. You are viewed, and rightfully so, as part of the machine that has removed this chance for many – and that is what they hate.

America hates unjustified privilege, it hates an unfair playing field and crony capitalism without the threat of bankruptcy, it hates privatized gains and socialized losses, it hates rule changes that benefit the few at the expense of the many and it hates people who have been bailed out and don’t display even the slightest bit of remorse or humbleness in the presence of so much suffering in the aftermath.

Nobody hates your right to make money, Jamie. They hate how you and certain others have made it.

Don’t be confused on this score for a moment longer.

Category: Bailouts, Psychology, Really, really bad calls

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

109 Responses to “Dear Jamie Dimon,”

  1. RagingDebate says:

    A couple of Christmas presents as I forgot to leave some.

    1) Global population in 1911: 1.8 B. Global population in 2011: 7B http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2011/05/world_population_forecasts?page=3

    I am not going to condemn 100 years of progress for poor-decision making of the last 40 years of the model. I had a great time in the 1980′s and 1990′s. Thank you global leadership for keep us safe. I was obtuse in the 1990′s as a citizen and shouldn’t have been. It was fun so I didn’t care much for anybody else but myself. It’s never too late to have a ‘come to Jesus moment’. It’s Christmas, spirit of forgiveness and New Year, time for a new start.

    2) Do you really want to know Root how the people REALLY feel? I went to OWS and made a short movie, going in at night as independent media. The very first interview was with Todd Spengla from JT Thompson whom defended Wall St.: http://ragingdebate.com/browse-articles/government-and-politics/america-meets-the-occupy-movement . Some Call Me Tim is appropriately passionate and you should watch the video.

    Some Call Me Tim: Root is dry but he is correct in his statements. Perhaps you feel he is obtuse. Bankers and investors (majority) of this board are not obtuse, heavy feelings in operating a business make you fail. I have owned businesses. The minute you try to act like everyone’s friend instead of the boss your business is THROUGH. That doesn’t mean though I can’t do my job as a visionary CEO and find methods to provide increased income TO a living wage (about $25 including employee burden) and incentivize beyond for the employee’s posterity. I suggest reading my link to my first commentary. ALL of it including the embedded link in the article. Please comment when through and I wager you might see things slightly differently in general, but at least get what Root is talking about.

    Root, I think I see the problem. The Internet was major disruptive technology. Banking underinvested in Social Media technologies. However, the people all use advanced information technologies, even the most poor in the society. In the bust phase of the CB model, the average Joe wants to know when it is going to get better and looks to leadership for reassurance. Unlike the 1930′s, the public gets it about banking as I said. The adjustments in the CB model can be explained by using a triangle, a square and a circle. These represent our evolutionary progress. Now check this out: http://ragingdebate.com/5dmodel . In less than 100 years mankind has progressed from operating in a 3D environment to almost 5D! Now the banking system can finally see where it needs to evolve and man can build the 5D branch model, including dynamic checks and balances using AI.

    The banking class now has a global choice since the entire globe knows the bankers rule the earth. Either hero or goat. Remember that one in business? Be the hero.

    Henry Ford was wrong, Americans won’t start a revolution by understanding how the banking system works. We get it. A revolution will start if there is no place for the people to engage leadership, redress grievance, gather research together and execute vision and plan. Allow me to present my solution set for bankers and private investors alike trying to regain rule of law and get back on track:

    3) Reach out past “Who you know” and “must be able to keep secrets” in finding an individual that can manage the development of a Social Media publishing utility that is open to 100% of the people. No more of this “by invitation only”. What is the use of a Job Alliance site to interface with the people by invite only?

    Have the bankers (what I am suggesting to Mr. Dimon) fund the plan and do PR about it.

    Look where we are all meeting up. It is here on a open forum board. Private circuit systems are no longer private, Facebook proved open space system and aggregates fractions work better (4D model by the way) than concentrated 3D corporate pyramid formations. It is a matter of scale for how much such a system should be private vs. public. I’ll use Likert. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the most open and 1 being the most private what you want out of this utility is an 8. Banking is a 1. The approach to combine banking systems with public-private dialogue systems online needs some serious revisiting. Get outside consulting help.

    The people will revolt if you as leaders in a depression don’t put a vision in place, goals to work toward. All the people can thing of now is inustice and law-breaking and they do have a point. Having no plan B means nothing else for the people to work on except jail-sentences and destruction of the supply chain to attempt justice and opportunity to benefit.

    Understand, what is common sense law, God given rights, natural law, whatever you want to call it that what is right in terms of the following concepts will be restored, a (guess on timing is innapropriate thinking, I can read your minds): Truth, Freedom, Justice, Equality.

    The good news? We all just practiced our 1st Amendment rights on an open forum. Our Republic still stands. That means reform IS possible. Commentators just told one of the rulers of America to piss up rope after he whined he isn’t getting fair publicity. Did anybody get bloodied from that? Now take this excersise we just did, add some standardization, fund and scale!

    We all need to get all the anger and frustration out online for a couple of months on one big place. Ever notice in person after a fight most people are calmer and can work out problems? Must we really do this in a world war? Let’s do it as global competition online on whom can come up with the better government model as a tool like the X-Prize. May as well let the people have access to information and solve their own problems, no one else is going to keep them from 3rd world status except themselves.

    Root, let’s see if you watch the first half hour and can better articulate what you mean to Some Call Me Tim.

    Since I am independent media and asked the people there at Zucotti Park many questions verse soundbites, the people interviewed opened up. I did this video not for 1% or 99% but 100% OF ALL OF US so here is the link again: http://ragingdebate.com/browse-articles/government-and-politics/america-meets-the-occupy-movement

    You are welcome for the market research Big Picture! Thank you gentlemen for taking the time to articulate your thoughts and for those that are doing this to educate and mentor the next crop of Capitalists.

    Merry Christmas!

    Jason C. Rines

  2. sns says:

    @linusbern
    You correctly guessed the circumstances. Unfortunately, instead of proposing an alternative course of action you enumerated some other set of events together with your negative perceptions of those events(which I may share).

    But I was more interested in actions that one would do in Mr. Dimon’s place to 1) No to get into the position where the bank is on the brink of collapse (when the whole finance system is there incidentally) 2) If already there, how to get out of this mess (without govt help) 3) Other alternative actions, that benefit the society and the bank shareholders at the same time

  3. Edoc says:

    Moe, can you explain Barney Frank’s culpability as it relates to the financial crisis?

    Recall that Frank became chairman of the House Financial Services Committee in 2007. Prior to that, the committee was chaired and dominated by GOP reps, who controlled the House from 1995 until the Democrats took over in 2007.

  4. linusbern says:

    sns,

    I guess I find your inquiry to be a bit flawed because it puts that single moment in time in a vacuum, and ignores the fact that he and his institution acted recklessly and corruptly for years beforehand which contributed to the crash, and that they appear to be engaging in all the same practices since then, and obstructing all efforts to make the sort of structural changes necessary to prevent future crashes.

    Assuming for the sake of an intellectual exercise, that we do just consider that moment in time, here are a few thoughts of what could have been done differently:

    1)Not immediately handing out the bailout money to their execs in the form of bonuses while telling us that if they didn’t do it they would lose these bright lights who had just about screwed the whole global economy.

    2)Coupling his announcement of acceptance of the bailout money with his resignation would have been tasteful.

    3)Repercussions for lawbreakers, and full cooperation with investigators.

    4)Supporting the sort of structural changes to the system that would even the playing field, increase transparency, and minimize the kinds of risky behaviour that caused the crash.

  5. sns says:

    @linusbern

    You know, we do not want to guess how he could live all his previous life differently, therefore a single point in time is important because it allows us for a second to put on a bank CEO’s hat and try to make some good or bad decisions. If such decisions do not change the outcome(for the society) for the better, it would mean that the outrage aimed at a particular person is useless and the system must be changed. Which does not preclude a personal responsibility for criminal, morally wrong or plain stupid behavior.

    Now, let’s review your arguments one-by-one:

    “he and his institution acted recklessly and corruptly for years beforehand which contributed to the crash” . I agree, JPM Chase contributed her fair share to the crash, but the proper question here would be: was it un-proportionally high to it’s size? If you have the evidence to support the positive answer, please present, otherwise we can just say that Chase behaved as badly(?) as the whole industry, or may be even relatively better, right?

    Your suggestions 1) and 2) have no practical implications on the current state of the economy. Suggestion 3) implies that there is an obstruction of some criminal investigation(I have no information about this, so no comments). Suggestion 4) actually sounds good, but it may have positive results only in the future, and, actually, there is a good chance that Mr Dimon actively participates in shaping the new banking laws (I just have no idea in what direction :).

    Unfortunately, the question what could be done differently to substantially change the outcome remains open …

  6. linusbern says:

    From reading your response it seems like your questions is really, “what action could Jamie Dimon have taken at that moment in time that would have magically fixed everything.” Clearly neither I, nor anyone else has an answer to such a question. Does this validate your apparent thesis that we shouldn’t blame him?

    As for the rest of your answer, I don’t know what to make of your point that you agree they acted recklessly and corruptly, but you don’t know if they were more or less so than other institutions. I have no idea if they were better or worse than others, and it makes no difference to me. We don’t avoid prosecuting murderers because other people may or may not have killed more. Same goes for thieves and rapists, drug dealers, smugglers, etc…

    You’re right that my suggestions wouldn’t have fixed the world, but they would have done a hell of a lot towards getting public support for the bailout specifically, and wall street generally.

    Addressing your point about 3). For one example, the large banks have been engaging in an illegal practice called robosigning, in which they pay someone to forge signatures on documents to create the appearance of clear title on homes in which they never bothered to transfer properly, so they can evict the home-owner with as little trouble as possible. This is an illegal practice that has been used on hundreds of thousands of documents. The banks certainly know who authorized and engaged in such activity. If they know of illegal behaviour they should be reporting it, not waiting for investigators to come calling, and then conceivably obstructing investigations.

  7. linusbern says:

    Sorry, a final point.

    “If such decisions do not change the outcome(for the society) for the better, it would mean that the outrage aimed at a particular person is useless and the system must be changed. ”

    I agree entirely that the system must be changed, no argument there.

    As far as this particular person goes, the outrage is not directed at him for a decision he made three years ago, but because he has chosen to make himself the poster boy for a rigged and corrupt system by writing obnoxious op-eds in which he whines about how great and misunderstood the megawealthy bankers are and the parasitical 99% should just be grateful for our benevolent overlords.

  8. linusbern says:

    Sorry, one final, final point.

    “4) actually sounds good, but it may have positive results only in the future, and, actually, there is a good chance that Mr Dimon actively participates in shaping the new banking laws (I just have no idea in what direction :). ”

    Since the entire financial/banking lobby has lined up en masse to kill or cripple all efforts at reforming the financial system, it is a fair guess that any participation Mr Dimon has in shaping new banking laws will benefit him, and screw the rest of us. I’m astonished that you think there is any likelihood he would put the interests of his customers over his own.

  9. sns says:

    @linusbern
    Happy New Year!

    Sorry for dragging the discussion for another year :)

    Let me summarize my position, so we do not have a misunderstanding here:

    1) The banking and the whole finance industry must be reformed
    2) The reform can only be done with full co-operation of significant and influential part of the industry(if not possible, the only options remained are summary executions and replacements of executives with revolutionary sailors ala 1917 Russia) .
    3) Personal responsibility of the bank employees at different levels, if criminal, is a matter of justice system, not a journalistic opinion. Personal responsibility is a very subtle matter, while systemwide failure is an obvious fact.
    4) Concentration on technical details, such as robosigning etc. is actually counterproductive as it distracts from “the big picture”.
    5) Failure to answer the questions “what could be done better under the circumstances?” should lead to the understanding, that something is intrinsically wrong with the system. Here is one more for you: You are Countrywide CEO in 2006 and you realize that the housing bubble is unsustainable. Your actions?