Memo to Mayor Bloomberg: JP Morgan Blow-Up is Not a ‘Hiccup’ -- It's a Giant, Ugly Warning
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New York's Mayor Bloomberg rarely loses an opportunity to rush to the defense of the reckless financial industry where he first cut his fangs as an investment banker. His recent excuse of fellow 1 Percent Boy’s Club member Jamie Dimon in the wake of the JP Morgan blow-up was no exception.
What was exceptional, even for the tone-deaf mayor, was his particular characterization of the loss of a chunk of change big enough to exceed the Gross National Product of, oh, several dozen countries:
“Jamie Dimon, I think — and I think you’d get general consensus — is one of the smartest people in the financial industry,” the mayor said. JPMorgan, as he put it, has “had a stellar reputation up until this hiccup.”
$2.2 billon and counting. A hiccup.
Shareholders didn’t quite see it that way. They hauled Dimon in on Tuesday to the annual meeting in Florida to find out why their money disappeared (stock was down 11 percent by then). Shareholder Lisa Lindsley, director of capital strategies at the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (one of the country's largest labor unions) gave the banker a piece of her mind: "On ‘Meet the Press,’ you said there were ‘warning signs’ and ‘red flags,’ yet management didn’t respond until it was $2 billion too late. ... We are all weary of mistakes..."
The shareholders voted against firing him on the spot, but soon Dimon will have to explain himself to an even scarier audience in the form of the U.S. Department of Justice, which has launched a formal investigation. An investigation by the FBI means JPMorgan is now facing a criminal probe.
Only an avatar of the New Gilded Age like Bloomberg could view a couple of billion dollars gone up in smoke with the same alarm you and I might feel looking for a lost quarter under the sofa cushion. Or give unwavering praise to a man who heads the firm that was -- besides cheating the public with untold numbers of creative schemes -- the chief bank and swindle-abettor for Bernie Maddoff. (Oh, wait. President Obama defended Dimon, too.)
A list of the most asinine things that have issued from the mouth of the mayor is rich and varied, of course. One cannot forget the 1998 assertion in response to an employee’s claims of being raped by one of his company’s honchos that he would believe a rape charge only if it was supported by "an unimpeachable third-party" witness.
Admittedly, that’s hard to match. But his drooling adoration of fatcat financiers and contempt for ordinary Americans has been especially noxious since the Wall Street-driven crash that cost millions of people their jobs, pensions and homes. Back in March, for example, he spoke fondly of Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein after derivatives salesman Greg Smith quit the firm and wrote an op-ed in the New York Times describing its habit of ripping off customers while laughing at their expense: “He’s trying to lead this firm at a time when God couldn’t lead it without being criticized.”
God. Or a sociopath.
In the World According to Bloomberg, financial criminals who rob us are to be considered divine beings, while citizens who dare to protest the fleecing are viewed as scum who do not understand that they should be cheering for big banks.
The mayor had this to say about Occupy Wall Street: “Everyone’s got a thing they want to protest, some of which is not realistic. And if you focus for example on driving the banks out of New York City, you know those are our jobs.…”