Stephen Foley: From hero to zero: Dimon has a bad week

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The Independent Online

US Outlook: Jamie Dimon has a lot of personal capital, but he's spending it fast. As the man who steered his bank away from the worst excesses of the sub-prime mortgage and commercial property markets before the world went into meltdown, he not only saved JPMorgan Chase but turned it into a serious rival to Goldman Sachs on Wall Street and the biggest retail bank in the country.

A slew of books on the financial crisis cast him as a hero-warrior, foreseeing the coming storm and forestalling disaster, focusing on his story, one must assume, because he has been more co-operative than most in their writing. The JPMorgan Chase website is the only major bank website whose homepage features the smiling face of its chief executive.

Hubris? I wouldn't say so, but a few incidents should make the bank's spinmeisters worry. His flippancy in front of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission this week found him being hissed on late night comedy shows. He'd said: "My daughter called me from school one day, said 'dad, what's a financial crisis?' Without trying to be funny, I said it's the type of thing which happens every five to seven years."

Now Mr Dimon is being the most vociferous in attacking the Obama administration's plan for a $117bn tax on the too-big-to-fail banks, which is designed to recoup bailout losses. He was at it again yesterday, saying "we've already paid for that" and calling it unfair that he was being asked to cover the cost of bailing out car companies and homeowners affected by the Wall Street meltdown – an argument with little merit, and zero public support.

Safer to let Goldman's Lloyd Blankfein be the public face of Wall Street for now.

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