Jamie Dimon published his annual letter to shareholders on Thursday, with this year’s edition coming in at 47 pages. In that space, the JPMorgan Chase CEO managed to play all the hits, calling for fewer mortgage regulations, praising the all-mighty system of capitalism, and heaping praise on the concept of Big Business. To save you from having to read Dimon’s bland-ass prose, let’s run through the lowlights from the brain of America’s most powerful banker.
The opening half of the letter covered the current financial status of JPMorgan—Dimon prattled on about how much cash in liquid assets the bank boasts now—and included his September 2018 letter reflecting on the 2008 financial crisis, which is filled to the brim with masturbatory language about how responsible JPMorgan acted throughout the crisis by...gobbling up companies like Bear Stearns and lending billions to broke states. (Why were they broke? Best not to say.)
Dimon saved the red meat for the third and fourth sections of his letter. That’s when he decides to tackle his first foe: regulators. Throughout the opening half of the letter, including in his financial crisis review, Dimon did his damndest to enunciate his support for the regulations that came out of the crisis. (“I want to be very clear that we do not advocate for the repeal of Dodd-Frank.”) But he gave the game away in the third section, when he refers to current restrictions as “onerous and unnecessary” in a call for mortgage reform:
In the early 2000s, bad mortgage laws helped create the Great Recession of 2008. Today, bad mortgage rules are hindering the healthy growth of the U.S. economy. Because there are so many regulators involved in crafting the new rules, coupled with political intervention that isn’t always helpful, it is hard to achieve the much-needed mortgage reform. This has become a critical issue and one reason why banks have been moving away from significant parts of the mortgage business.
Also new for this year: Dimon cautioning his investors to beware the red menace. Last year’s letter offered no mention of socialism (it also, like this year’s letter, somehow failed to find room to mention JPMorgan’s ongoing funding of private prisons) but it seems that high-profile democratic socialists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders have forced the S-word to the top of the big banker’s mind. Dimon did not cite either by name, but instead must’ve sent a team of researchers to work plumbing the diaries and letters of Margaret Thatcher for just the right obscure line to prove his point that capitalism owns and socialism is bad:
When governments control companies, economic assets (companies, lenders and so on) over time are used to further political interests – leading to inefficient companies and markets, enormous favoritism and corruption. As Margaret Thatcher said, “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” Socialism inevitably produces stagnation, corruption and often worse – such as authoritarian government officials who often have an increasing ability to interfere with both the economy and individual lives – which they frequently do to maintain power. This would be as much a disaster for our country as it has been in the other places it’s been tried.
The titan of industry followed that wholly original thought up with a decontextualized defense of Big Business, penning a paragraph so far up its own ass that it provides a crystal clear picture of how billionaires think the economy serves American workers (emphasis mine):
Show me a country without any large, successful companies, and I will show you an unsuccessful country – with too few jobs and not enough opportunity as an outcome. And no country would be better off without its large, successful companies in addition to its midsized and small companies. Private enterprise is the true engine of growth in any country. Approximately 150 million people work in the United States: 130 million work in private enterprise and only 20 million people in government. As I pointed out earlier in this letter, large, successful companies generally provide good wages, even at the starting level, as well as insurance for employees and their families, retirement plans, training and other benefits.]
As is the case with nearly all of his Thoughts On America, Dimon’s latest diatribe amounts to little more than the wandering thoughts of a rich white man hoping to one day become a richer white man. There is nothing new or revolutionary or even halfway exciting to be found among the 47 pages he most definitely wrote on his own; there is only a predictable preview of how the financial industry plans to fuck you over in the years to come.