Posted last week and moved up because Jamie Dimon will be here, ready to be occupied, on Wednesday night.
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is one of the most powerful and wealthiest men on Wall Street. He earns about one thousand times the median U.S. household income, and has an estimated net worth of somewhere between $300 million and $3 billion. His bank was at the epicenter of the economic collapse that cost millions of Americans their jobs, their homes, and their futures. He insists that foreclosure is a form of magnanimous "debt relief" that leaves the former homeowners "better off" than they were before. He's perhaps the most vocal and effective opponent of proposed international financial regulations that could avoid yet another banking collapse and bailout.
And he's coming to Seattle.
Few banks were more complicit in, or profited more from, the financial collapse than JPMorgan Chase, a leading player in the real-estate-bubble-inflating subprime mortgage market and the main banker to imprisoned Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff. Earlier this year, Chase agreed to pay $153.6 million to settle US Securities and Exchange Commission fraud charges, just days before the trustee representing Madoff's victims filed claims seeking $19 billion in damages. "JPMorgan Chase chose to enable Madoff's fraud," the trustee charged in a 155-page complaint, "not just through the various ways it participated in its activity, but by helping to cover Madoff's naked theft with the imprimatur of a globally recognized financial institution."
Even Madoff credits the "willful blindness" of his bankers for his ability to carry on his scheme so long. "They had to know," Madoff told the New York Times. "But the attitude was sort of, 'If you’re doing something wrong, we don’t want to know.' "
More recently, Chase was fined $47 million by UK regulators, and $88 million by the US Treasury for illegal trading with Iran, Sudan, Liberia, and Cuba, a settlement that reveals Chase's willingness to act above laws intended to serve America's self-interest. But of course those numbers are chump change compared to the $25 billion taxpayer-funded bailout Chase received in 2008—the largest bailout amount awarded—money that CEO Jamie Dimon admitted at the time he intended to use to be "a little bit more active on the acquisition side or opportunistic side," rather than for making the kinds of new loans necessary to help jump-start our economy. And that was after Chase had already scooped up troubled financial giants Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual at bargain-basement postcrash prices.
If anyone epitomizes the arrogance and greed of our "too big to fail" banking industry, it is Dimon, who has deftly navigated the economic crisis to make Chase even bigger. While the government-backed FDIC ate the bulk of Washington Mutual's subprime loan losses in the biggest bank failure in US history, Chase snatched up WaMu's lucrative retail banking business for pennies on the dollar, helping it to leapfrog Citibank and Bank of America in recent months to become the nation's largest bank, with $2.3 trillion in assets. Yet even that's not big enough. In an interview with the Financial Times, Dimon railed against efforts to increase capital requirements for the very largest banks, decrying the new regulations as a "miscarriage of justice." This from the CEO of a bank that happily fattened itself on the remains of WaMu, a predatory lending pioneer a US Senate report accused of creating a "mortgage time bomb" by making subprime loans they knew would go bad, and then fraudulently packing them into risky securities.
As for the many victims of WaMu, Chase and the rest of the taxpayer-bailed-out/government-guaranteed banking industry (would you deposit your money in these banks without the FDIC's assurance?), Dimon shows little empathy or compassion. "Giving debt relief to people that really need it, that's what foreclosure is," Dimon told CNBC in May. "[Homeowners] are probably better off going somewhere else, because they get relieved almost 100 percent of the debt through disclosure."
Gee, thanks for the foreclosure, Jamie. It's good to know you haven't forgotten the little people.
And if you want to show your appreciation to Dimon for all his hard work toward helping the top one percent of American dreams come true, you'll have an opportunity to express your thanks in person, Wednesday, November 2, when Dimon is the featured speaker at the UW's Foster School of Business "Business Leadership Celebration," at Seattle's downtown Sheraton Hotel. Occupy Seattle is planning to march on the Sheraton at 5:45 pm, and I urge the rest of the 99 Percent to join me in welcoming Dimon to Occupy Seattle.