Embattled JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon faced the Senate today, testifying for the first time about his bank’s massive trading loss of over $2 billion dollars. The hearing once again revealed that populist outrage against Wall Street seems to stop at the Capitol’s door.
Dimon began by reading his prepared remarks, in which he apologized for the loss while also pushing back against accusations that his bank — the most profitable in America — is out of control.
“We have let a lot of people down, and we are sorry for it,” Dimon told the committee. “We will not make light of these losses, but they should be put into perspective. We will lose some of our shareholders’ money – and for that, we feel terrible – but no client, customer or taxpayer money was impacted by this incident.”
Dimon, who fought the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill tooth and nail and has become perhaps the most prominent bank defender in the country, then faced questioning from senators. Earlier this week, David Cay Johnston wrote that “I hope [Dimon] is asked pointed, nuanced questions that break through the veneer of his and the bank’s public remarks to date.”
While a few senators did bring tough questions — for example, Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) asked Dimon whether the controversial trade was a form of “Russian roulette,” and Jeff Merkley grilled the CEO over a report that Dimon could have spotted the trouble earlier — many just used the hearing as a forum to tell Dimon how incredibly awesome he is.
“We can hardly sit in judgment of you losing $2 billion when we lose $2 billion every day,” Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) told Dimon.
“You are rightfully known as one of the best,” gushed Bob Corker (R-TN.) Earlier this morning, he had told CNN’s “Starting Point” that JPMorgan’s massive loss was merely “a blip on the radar screen.”
Dimon personally donated $2,000 to Corker last year.
Corker isn’t alone in his potential conflict of interest; for more on the disturbingly deep connections between JP Morgan and the committee tasked with investigating it, see Cora Currier’s useful guide.