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Jamie Gets Punished

Economy Memo Pad

Jamie Gets Punished


If you are sensitive to stories of human suffering and economic hardship, let me warn you that the following report contains material that could be upsetting, so discretion is advised.

It’s about a fellow named Jamie. He lives in New York City, and he has recently had a very rough go with a large financial institution. Such behemoths can be heartless, so as you can imagine, it’s tough to stand up to them. The giant in this case is JPMorgan Chase, Wall Street’s biggest bank, and it went after poor Jamie Dimon hard. In the end, the bank took more than half his income.

It was a bitterly painful experience, but thanks to the indomitable human spirit, Jamie’s story has turned from sad to uplifting! Yes, he was down, but not out. Luckily, he had something big going for him in this fight: JPMorgan is his bank. I don’t mean he banks there; he’s the CEO.

On Jan. 16, it was announced that JPMorgan’s board of directors had docked his pay, awarding him some $12 million less this year than he was given a year ago. Ouch! But there’s no need to cry for Jamie. He still is hauling home $11.5 million.

Yet Wall Streeters are all atwitter about the haughty CEO getting his comeuppance (though I guess getting his pay cut in half would more properly be termed a “come-downance”).

He certainly did have a very bad year in 2012. He presided over a stunning $6.2 billion loss by the bank’s chief investment office, due to finagling or incompetence, or both — federal authorities are still investigating. But the high-rolling denizens of Wall Street were shocked by the level of punishment meted out by the bank’s board, widely condemning it as harsh. However, Dimon himself merely said of the board’s action: “I respect their decision.”

Of course he does! He walked away with his job intact, an $11.5-million wad in his pocket and a sly grin on his face. Many investors and bank regulators (not to mention us commoners) don’t consider that level of “punishment” to be much of a deterrent to the kind of executive narcissism and too-big-too-fail carelessness that characterizes today’s Wall Street elite.

JPMorgan’s board told regulators it didn’t consider canning the chief because he had “accepted responsibility” for the management failures that led to the shocking losses.

Wow! He cost the bank’s investors six big ones, but by saying, in effect, “my bad,” his bungling still is rewarded with an outsized paycheck. And, get this, $10 million of the $11.5 million he got was awarded to him as a bonus!

What a wonderful morality tale this is for America’s children. If you make a mess of something, boys and girls, just tell your parents to give you the Jamie Dimon punishment.

Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower is a nationally syndicated columnist and one of America's most prominent progressive voices. His column carried by more than 75 publications across the country. Prior to becoming a writer, Hightower served as Texas Agricultural Commission from 1982 to 1991.

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  1. Progressive Patriot January 30, 2013

    OK, Right. I know how much you hate corruption and incompetence in government. Let’s hear your outrage over this?

  2. Eleanore Whitaker January 30, 2013

    Dimon was judged as all employees of any business are…on his performance. It was unsatisfactory. Don’t worry about corruption or incompetence in government. It left the White House in 2008 while riding off into the Crawford sunset. Leaving behind a huge mes for the next guy to clean up.

    Isn’t it funny how the corporate Johnny Jump Ups of the right all manage sympathy for the devil? Dimon got his due. Now all of the corporate cowards are worried this is a downward trend they can’t mentally or financially process.

    Once you take the money down a few pegs, you see these thugs of corruption for who and what they really are. They are the first to tell the rest of their victims of their corruption…”You are on your own.” Until they are the ones on “their own.” They are the first to tell they consider beneath their wealth class, “Live within your means.” Until they are the ones who have to sell off their fleets of private jets, BMWs, McWifie’s McMansions and their vaults of excess they thought would just be limitless into the next millennium.

    Check your facts. Every one of the top 10 Robber Barons, either died penniless, committed suicide when they realized their money was running out or they ended up hidden behind decaying mansion walls as a recluse. In no case, has any wealthheaded fool taken his money with him.

    1. TZToronto January 30, 2013

      The bigger you are (or others think you are), the more you can get away with. How about no bonus when you screw up? I think that everyone who has been denied a bonus knows that any error you might have made that the boss knows about will affect your bonus. When the time comes to hand out the bonus money, the boss has no trouble saying, “No bonus for you because you made an error last June 15th.” He (or she) then takes that piece of the bonus money and–surprise–grabs it for a bit more personal enrichment. . . . Perhaps Dimon’s bonus was cut from $20 million to $10 million. Geez. A cut like that can make for some tense times at home.

      1. Progressive Patriot January 31, 2013

        Right. There is absolutely no risk for them personally. In fact, the only risk for them is to not engage in risky and questionable practices.
        We just can’t turn our backs, or go to sleep on these people! Call your representatives, make some noise.
        Move 2 Amend!

  3. johninPCFL January 30, 2013

    Wonder why CEO pay has increased 300% over the same period worker pay has decreased 5%? Here’s the reason in a nutshell: the grand poobahs don’t EVER cut a member’s pay!

    That they even agreed to cut his pay is miraculous. Will Dimon seek retribution against his board members using his own membership in their “compensation committees”? It’ll be interesting to see.

  4. Lovefacts January 30, 2013

    Ah, gee, only $11.5 million. How will he survive? When our middle class grew and the economy was stable, the highest paid executive was only paid 10x the highest paid laborer in the company.

    I always laugh when I hear the excuse for these salaries–the best will leave the US. Sure they will. We should be so lucky that we lose the jerks who tanked not only our economy but the world’s. The truth is if they worked for a European or Asian company, they’d earn less. If they lived anywhere else, they’d pay more in taxes. In some countries they’d pay almost 90%.

    As I said, we’d be lucky to get rid of these TAKERS.

    1. Progressive Patriot January 31, 2013

      Way to bring it, Lovefacts!

  5. Debbie Kiesel-Ryan January 31, 2013

    WOW, $1 million in salary and $10.5 million in bonuses for a job terribly done???? He presided over a $6BILLION loss and they still award him, there’s something terribly wrong here. I don’t understand why people still bank with these institutions???? We gave him a bonus because he said he was bad, what is he a little kid that you want to train????? Who are you kidding, he’s training you to look the other way!!!!!!!

  6. robert January 31, 2013

    What is the incentive not to deceive or not to engage in corruption? If he is the CEO and causes his corporation to lose millions of dollars not even a few years after being bailed out by the Obama/Biden administration, then is allowed to keep his million dollar job and is given an 11.5m bonus, where is the deterrent that would prevent him from doing it again? The investors lost in this one, but in the long run, Americans will eventually made to pay to recover JPMorgan’s losses in government subsidies, higher fees, frivolous penalties, and increased interest rates. Americans will eventually get the raw deal. This is what happened to us in the growth of corporations in the early 20th century where corporations like JLBean, Ford, Coca Cola, etc. created customers by turning Americans into a nation of consumers, or spenders instead of developers and strivers. That tactic has resulted into three economic disasters: the Great Depression, the Great Recession of the Reagan Era, and the bubble bursting the caused the economic collapse under Bush/Cheney that America is still recovering from. The question comes up again: will we learn anything from this?


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