Meet Jamie Dimon, Wall Street’s newest rabble rouser.
The chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co. made headlines on the weekend for chiding Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney about new bank regulations he fears will kill economic growth. But that exchange, a testy conversation that played out in front of a room filled with financial executives from around the world, was not the first time the outspoken Mr. Dimon has sparked a war of words.
Compared with many of his fellow bank CEOs who prefer a lower, less caustic, profile, the brash Mr. Dimon enjoys a good dust-up. Immortalized by a frowning Bill Pullman in the movie adaptation of Too Big To Fail, Mr. Dimon is known for his ability to cut to the chase, and a propensity to dismantle his opponents with an aggressive debating style.
More recently, the 55-year-old head of one of the largest financial institutions in the United States has become known as the “Angry Banker.” His interrogation of U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke in June will likely go down as Mr. Dimon’s most memorable public performance since, unlike the Carney debate, that one made YouTube. During a question-and-answer session after a conference, Mr. Dimon stepped up to the microphone and pointedly asked whether the Fed had done any math on the U.S. government’s proposed banking reforms: “Has anyone bothered to study the cumulative effect of all these things? Is this holding us back at this point?”
Mr. Dimon is no loose cannon. Analysts say he chooses his fights carefully and would not have gone after Mr. Carney or Mr. Bernanke on a whim.
Nor does he shy from getting his hands dirty with lobbying. JPMorgan mobilized a an army of small business owners to oppose new rules governing derivatives trading a few years ago, urging them to contact Washington to explain how such changes would hurt Main Street.
After graduating with an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1982, he began his career at American Express Co. and worked his way up the ranks at several financial institutions, including Citigroup, where he was chief financial officer, and Solomon Smith Barney, where he was co-CEO.
Mr. Dimon’s personal stock has been rising steadily, after emerging from the global financial turmoil with a rare commodity among U.S. bank executives: swagger. While other U.S. financial institutions faltered (most notably Lehman Brothers), his bank grew by acquiring the badly bruised Bear Stearns and the jittery Washington Mutual.
Whether JPMorgan’s outspoken leader is a hero to Wall Street, as his backers suggest, or an aggressive mouthpiece who likes to pick fights, probably won’t become clear until long after the dust settles on the economic crisis.