Wednesday, January 29, 2014


J.P. Morgan Chase and Co.'s board unanimously voted to raise the pay of C.E.O. James Dimon by 74%.  Dimon will receive a salary of $20 million for 2013.  Dimon's raise comes after his company paid more than $20 billion in legal payouts for scandals ranging from fraud to malfeasance.  In 2013,the Dimon led Chase admitted to criminal culpability in a number of instances.  This, according to the board of directors, is a resume which warrants a huge reward.

     The list of ways in which J.P. Morgan Chase lied, cheated, finagled and acted like a criminal enterprise is extraordinary in length.  The company paid fines for cheating or lying to investors about the quality of sub-prime mortgages it sold.  The case of the "London Whale" had Chase ponying up fines for ignoring flagrant abuses of trading rules and taking illegal risks with bank money.  Chase was involved in the LIBOR scandal (London interbank offering rate) affecting over $3 trillion in transactions worldwide.  Chase was even fined for aiding and abetting Bernie Madoff to pull off his Ponzi scheme.  It goes without saying, even as Mr. Dimon reaped his rewards, no one, not a single person, at J.P. Morgan Chase has ever been indicted, let alone tried and convicted of any criminal wrong doing.

     We are told one of the central tenets for why taxpayers spend $8-10 billion a year on a federal prison system is for its deterrence value.  Prison, or at least the threat of prison, keeps people in line...keeps them from committing them second thoughts about the wisdom of their actions.  It turns out this is a lie...falsehood...prevarication foisted on us by those who get economic benefits from the prison/industrial complex.  Prison is meant to deter "us" but not "them".  Mr. Dimon, and his ilk, are some of "them".  He presided over a criminal enterprise with its oily hands in every financial con and flimflam possible and he has been "deterred" by a 74% raise.

     Perhaps a better way to think of this is the $20 billion paid out in fines and penalties is just a cost of doing successful business in this country.  When the mob runs an operation, they factor in all the bribes and kickbacks they have to pay to judges, cops, lawyers, and politicians and subtract those costs when figuring out their profit.  Dimon has been given millions in a raise because the stock price for his company increased by 33% in 2013.  In other words, they ignored the $20 billion payout as simply part of doing business...they rewarded him for not having to pay out more...he got a raise because as the company was cheating and stealing from average Americans, stockholders were doing very well thank you.

     No lesser a godlike figure in business than Warren Buffett, the oracle of Omaha, sings Dimon's praises.  "If I owned J.P. Morgan, Chase, he would be running it."  Buffett says he would hire Dimon to run Berkshire Hathaway in a minute if he could.  Adding insult to injury, the board praised Dimon for how well he handled all the "regulatory" problems the company faced in 2013.  This won for the board the annual Euphemism Award given by the Bonanno/Gambino foundation for American enterprise in New York.

     Proving he is a hands-on manager who revels in the small details which separate great companies from also-rans, when asked by the U.S. Attorney why certain people who were involved in failure in oversight and management were still with the company, Dimon says the company only fires people for incompetence which wasn't the case in these instances.  They still work for Chase because they weren't incompetent.  They did exactly what they were told to do by Mr. Dimon.

     Dimon's raise puts the lie to the Obama Justice Department's claim that the fines were enough to change this culture of criminality and moral hazard and prevent future abuses.  It exposes to sunlight the dirty little secret that the really rich and powerful have a different set of rules to live by.  The raise sends a message to all Chase employees about what they need to do to get ahead.  (what do you think Dimon would have done to an employee who blew the whistle on company crimes?)

     Dimon, in 2013, is responsible for a company, by no means the only one on Wall Street, which admitted to behavior which would make a "made-man" blush, and he is rewarded with millions of dollars and the thanks of a grateful board and satisfied stock holders.  Now that is a bedtime story every little American should hear and warm the cockles of their tiny Christian hearts.

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