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JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon weighs in on banking regulation

Jamie Dimon says bank not too big to fail, but large enough to succeed in global market.
by Don Mecoy Modified: August 7, 2013 at 5:00 pm •  Published: August 6, 2013
/articleid/3869700/1/pictures/2177447">Photo - JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, head of the largest bank in the United States, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on  June 13, 2012, before the Senate Banking Committee. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite <strong>J. Scott Applewhite</strong>
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, head of the largest bank in the United States, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 13, 2012, before the Senate Banking Committee. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite J. Scott Applewhite

We're a big money center bank. We borrow money around the world; we lend money around the world. They confuse the numbers when they talk about the average costs of deposits. Our average, if you actually go down to a branch, look at what we pay at our branch and what the competitor pays across the street, they're the same and very competitive. There's no subsidy of one versus the other. It's a fiction.

And the thing about size, size really relates to do you bring good things to your clients? Do your clients come to you because you give them some things better, faster, quicker, bundled the way they like, etc. If you didn't, you'd lose business. The proof is in the pudding. We win business because we do certain things really well and clients like us. No client — zero — has to come and do business with us. We do business with certain companies in 20 different countries. You cannot be a global bank for huge companies like Caterpillar and Exxon and think you'll be small. It's not possible. I do not understand. You must be very thoughtful when you talk about ‘just too big.'

Obviously, being big has some negatives too. It's not all positives. The positives are huge kinds of scale, the ability to do things in 40 countries. But, yeah, it's creates some complexities, sometimes creates some negatives. But that's true for airplanes, it's true for cars, it's true for pharmaceuticals. In fact, it's true for friggin' progress. OK? I just don't understand why someone says in this area, it's too big, but not in that area. Cars crash, planes crash, pharmas are misused. Does that mean we should give up on all those things and cut them way down in size so we don't have that kind of complexity? People should be really careful what they mean, they should put logic around this one — not just statements.

Q: So you don't think as long as you're growing organically you can really get too big?

A: No. You're always trying to simplify it and you're always trying to do it. But remember if you look at the size of the large banks versus the economy and versus the large companies we bank, they still pretty much parallel.

We did a $20 billion bridge loan for AT&T over a weekend. Do you want the Chinese banks to be doing that in 10 years? Because that's what will happen. If you think that somehow the need for global banks will go away, they won't. It will just be filled by other people. Obviously, if you're good, you earn good returns, you win clients, you have fewer mistakes — not no mistakes. That's another fiction that somehow you're not going to make a mistake somewhere.

Q: Chase does so many things besides traditional banking, is that still the most important business of your company?

A: We're pretty traditional bankers, I think. You say that. What are you referring to?

Q: All kinds of other investing, more than just taking in deposits and making loans.

A: People have this view that somehow taking in deposits and making loans is traditional banking. The average bank makes loans of all various types, very complex loans — revolver loans, receivables, inventory, real estate — and all different types of deposits — customers, savings accounts, checking accounts, business accounts. The average bank usually does some kind of private-client stuff like asset management, private client, middle-market lending, small-business lending. We do all those things.

The only thing we do which is — and we're big — that most of the regional banks don't do is what I'm going to call global banking general. We move money around the world. We raise capital around the world. We raise huge sums of money for big companies on Wall Street. So that's the unique thing we have that others don't. We'll do business with a company like General Motors in 20 countries. We'll do a $5 billion loan for General Motors in four currencies. Those are different things, but honestly, it's just banking for big companies. They just do it differently.

by Don Mecoy
Business Editor
Business Editor Don Mecoy has covered business news for more than a decade after earlier working on The Oklahoman's city, state and metro news desks, including a stint as city editor. He has won state and regional journalism awards for business,...
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