Sunday, February 8, 2009

Dimon Says ‘Not Every Company’ Responsible for Wall Street Pay

By Elizabeth Hester and Margaret Popper

Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) -- JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said it’s “unfair” for politicians to criticize Wall Street pay without differentiating compensation based on performance.

“It’s unfair to talk about us as one,” Dimon, who was paid $1 million last year and didn’t accept a bonus, said today at a conference sponsored by Crain’s New York Business. “Not every company was responsible.”

U.S. President Barack Obama and politicans worldwide have criticized financial industry executives for taking multi- million dollar pay packages after banks and brokerages racked up more than $800 billion of losses and writedowns on credit- related assets. Dimon, 52, is among CEOs including Bank of America Corp.’s Kenneth Lewis and Morgan Stanley’s John Mack who opted not to take bonuses for last year.

“Pay got a little exuberant, and there were some legitimate complaints,” Dimon said. “But I don’t think the president of the United States should paint everyone with the same brush.”

New York-based JPMorgan, the second-largest U.S. bank, doesn’t have so-called golden parachutes or retirement packages, and all top executives must retain 75 percent of their stock- based compensation, Dimon said.

Fed Oversight

JPMorgan has taken $29.5 billion in losses, writedowns and credit provisions since the start of the financial crisis. That’s a fraction of the $85.4 billion taken by Citigroup Inc. and $55.9 billion by Merrill Lynch & Co., now part of Bank of America.

Dimon also said the Federal Reserve should have the authority to regulate all companies within the banking system, including investment banks. Regulators lacked powers to oversee such firms before Bear Stearns Cos. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. failed last year, Dimon said.

“If you’re going to regulate, you’ve got to regulate all of it,” Dimon said. “If you don’t, you’re going to end up here again with all of these problems.”

Talk of nationalizing the banks should “stop” since many institutions remain healthy, he said. Some lenders will fail, while others will need government aid to make it through the financial crisis, he said. The U.S. should help those firms that need it and should price that aid to recoup losses, Dimon said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Elizabeth Hester in New York at; Margaret Popper in New York at

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