“What a year,” quipped JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM)’s supreme leader, Jamie Dimon, a man who had just escaped a gauntlet that would have felled lesser banks. Or should we say lesser connected banks?
The most influential bank in history?
What is the value of absolute influence over the financial world to a point never before witnessed in history? A documented degree of control that has even eclipsed the grand master, John Pierpoint Morgan? At least when Morgan was at work setting up the super secret agreement to establish the Federal Reserve he had a fear reporters would discover and report his actions. Back then, when the vote to create the Fed took place while most Congressman were off on vacation, a fact predictably absent during the official celebration of the monumental establishment of the establishment preserving bank regulator on Jekyll Island, the issue was decided in the court of public opinion. During Pierpoint’s day there was a national debate and presidential election based on big bank control. The banks won in a tight election, then. This allowed a regulator of the banks to be owned by the banks. This was a monumental creation of control, reported in the Saturday Evening Post but seldom discussed since.
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“Those were the days,” Dimon might have been thinking, as he posed for an annual report shot that looks somewhat like a picture one might expect to see in an Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE:ANF) catalog. Dimon was doing his best “cool” guy imitation as the second button on his blue checkered button down was left open in the breeze, a fashion that has been recently popularized by Michael Lewis as he appeared all across the media universe. (Sitting beside Lewis on Meet the Press, host David Gregory commented on Lewis sans tie and shirt opened up two buttons as was the fashion in the 1980s, saying “Look at you…”)
But Dimon had reason to reflect on this moment. After receiving nothing more than a disputed fine with the Department of Justice over their role developing mortgage-backed securities that are said to be at the heart of the 2008 market implosion, Dimon gave a nod to the justice system. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” Dimon said in a letter to shareholders, quoting Martin Luther King. Perhaps what he meant to say was “The arc of the moral universe tips in my direction, as I bend justice to a historic level.” It is hard to tell.
Dimon’s most amazing accomplishment
Amidst a background where well known financial reform advocate Better Markets has filed a lawsuit against the DoJ for its settlement of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM)’s discretions without disclosing the details of their investigation (there was said to be damning criminal evidence), Dimon might count the bullets he has dodged and rightfully think he is the golden boy. His well-manicured image gracing the cover of the firm’s annual report, he might think back to another masterpiece. When funds were illegally transferred from a highly regulated section of his bank to another bank division – a move where witnesses document the conversations between JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) and Jon Corzine – that was another bullet dodged. What MF Global Holdings Ltd (OTCMKTS:MFGLQ) really discloses is that the Wall Street elite thank they can get away with obvious crime – and silence the arms of justice without a fight. These are amazing accomplishments. It’s just no one really talks about them. With a record number of suicides at the firm, the prospect of a little less judicial latitude in the future, say sources, JPMorgan has dodged a major bullet and danced around what likely felled lesser bankers.
JPMorgan takeover target
A recent survey showed that JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) had the highest potential to be the next takeover target. It is a very logical move — the break up value is much higher than the stock price. But this won’t happen. Breaking JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) up means tearing apart the most control the bank has had over the US Justice system and ability to influence media coverage in history. This is an enormous accomplishment that won’t be broken up. This level of control has never been witnessed in history. Pay him more money!