Monday, May 14, 2012

We All Make Mistakes

J.P.Morgan Chase dropped two billion dollars the other day on a bad bet in the investing game. It is a breath taking sum of money for most of the people on this planet. For Jamie Dimon, the chairman, president and ceo of the banking firm it was just an unfortunate error.

He went on Meet the Press and in the rat a tat tat style of speaking most often associated with TV hucksters who sell things like Sham Wow explained that these things happen sometimes. "We all make mistakes," he said. "Every business does."

Well there are mistakes and then there are two billion dollar mistakes. Dimon used words and terms like, "sloppy, stupid, screw ups and badly monitored" to describe J.P. Morgan's. He also said, "There is almost no excuse for ignoring the warning signs."

He did not explain what the word "almost" meant in this context.

Dimon is a happy warrior, optimistic and self confident to the extreme. He claims J.P. Morgan is not at risk over this debacle and will make money this year. He is probably right. Wikipedia lists Morgan's assets at two trillion dollars, making it the largest bank in the United States. Billions and trillions are, of course, numbers that mean as much to most of us as some astronomer telling us a star is 300 million light years away. The average human brain just can't accurately picture such massive amounts and distances.

Dimon is a registered democrat, but he favors deregulation of Wall Street firms. He does admit, however the goof at Morgan will fuel the argument that more, not less regulation is needed. In fact that is probably why he used all those unflattering words and terms to describe it. He is obviously upset the money was lost, but he is REALLY upset that it gives those who want to clamp down on this orgy of excess and greed an argument.

He claims he understands the disenchantment with Wall Street many, if not most, Americans feel. However listening to him talk you very quickly figure out that there is a huge difference between him understanding the problem and wanting to do something about it. Yes, Jamie Dimon might know you feel he and those like him are utterly out of touch with the average citizen, but that doesn't mean he cares. "You can't paint all of Wall Street as bad," he says. And even though he admits that under Obama the economy is getting stronger he claims the recovery would be happening quicker if we'd just let him go his merry way without any restraint whatsoever.

Back in the day one of the Yellow Cab drivers in OKC became a legend by forcibly taking away the gun of a would be robber. It was a brave and some would say, foolish act. The cabbie ordered the thief out of his vehicle, then as the guy was leaving, he asked the driver, quite seriously I'm told, if he could have his gun back.

Why do I think that clown should be working for Jamie Dimon? I suppose it is that whole birds of a feather thing. They are both completely unabashed by their mind boggling gall. That and in the end the only major difference between them is the size of their profit and loss margins.



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