I'm not a voyeur, so I couldn't bear to watch the public orgy known as the Dimon-Senate Banking Committee hearing writhe its way to completion yesterday. I'll paraphrase what I did watch, with one hand over my eyes:
Dimon: (sounding kind of like James Cagney in one of his gangster roles, talking rapid-fire oligarchy-barky Brooklynese with a mouth full of gravel)."Sorry, so glibly sorry. But I am so huge that even a glitch like a $4 billion loss doesn't put a dent in my greatness. Yeah, yeah we might need a few regulations, but let me do the regulating, guys. I'm just too big for most people to even understand. But I got it covered, see?"
Senators: "Okay, Your Greatness. Would you like some taxpayer-funded champagne to go with your caviar? Are the camera lights creating a drop of perfumed perspiration on your lofty brow? Would you like to retire to a special room where we can enjoy our make-out session in private?"
Senator Bernie Sanders, the socialist-independent senator of Vermont, was very much a part of Wednesday's hearing although he is not an actual member of the Committee. Protesters screamed at Dimon to listen to Bernie before they were escorted out by security guards. Dimon, busy schmoozing with his gentle inquisitors, appeared unruffled by the outbreak of hoi polloi-dom. He is triply safe. He is in charge of a bank the size of a country, he serves on the regulatory board overseeing himself, and he funds the campaigns of almost every senator on the Banking Committee. He is a ranking member of the Board of Directors of the United States of America.
Sanders has just named names in a report by the Government Accountability Office, showing that Dimon is not the only member of the Federal Reserve Board who is a fox guarding the henhouse. Since the 2008 financial meltdown, The Fed gave trillions of dollars in no/low interest loans to Dimon's bank and 17 other corporations whose CEOs also just happened to have seats on the Fed.
JP Morgan, Dimon's bank, received $390 billion in emergency Fed funds at the same time his bank was used by the Fed as a clearinghouse for emergency lending programs. Jamie Dimon's Fed gave Jamie Dimon $29 billion in financing to buy distressed investment house Bear Stearns in March 2008 after it allowed Jamie's bank to cook the books and erase Bear Stearns' risky mortgage related assests from the balance sheet. Jamie Dimon's Fed gave Jamie Dimon's bank an 18- month exemption from risk-based leverage and capital requirements. (It gave carte blanche to recklessness. It ensured that Jamie Dimon's bank would grow too big to fail, that Jamie Dimon could risk other people's money with impunity and into perpetuity.)
The GAO report says all this chicanery sure does give the "appearance" of impropriety. Ya think? They probably should have called it "Public Enemies" to give it a little more pizzazz.
Sanders, meanwhile, has introduced quixotic legislation that would try to bar banking and corporate CEOs like Jeffrey Immelt of GE from serving on the Fed board. The names of the other plutocrats who profited from their dual positions can be found here.
Meanwhile, the great Crony Capitalism World spins, a magical place where all the risks are subsidized and all the gains are privatized. The dirty rats remain at the helm of the sinking ship.