JPMorgan CEO whines that regulators are being too mean

Even as Wall Street chips away at financial reform, Jamie Dimon says banks are "under assault"

By Luke Brinker

Published January 14, 2015 4:17PM (EST)

  (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
(AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

The New York Times this morning highlights how Wall Street is gradually chipping away at the Dodd-Frank financial reform law of 2010, tacking deregulatory measures onto urgent legislation like last month's massive government spending bill. This has reform advocates warning that Dodd-Frank faces "death by a thousand cuts," in the words of Americans for Financial Reform policy director Marcus Stanley. But to hear JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon tell it, Wall Street is going through a terrible patch.

"Banks are under assault," Dimon declared in a conference call with reporters today, Reuters reports. "We have five or six regulators coming at us on every issue. It's a hard thing to deal with," the tormented soul lamented.

Dimon's remarks came as JPMorgan reported a 6.6 percent fall in its quarterly profit amid mounting legal costs. In the fourth quarter of 2014, the bank's legal fees totaled $1.1 billion, an increase from $847 million in the fourth quarter of 2013. For all of 2014, legal expenses amounted to $2.9 billion, which marked a decrease from 2013, when the bank was hit with a record $13 billion penalty for mortgage fraud.

In the conference call, Dimon also blasted federal rules that require banks to shore up capital reserves -- part of regulators' effort to avoid future taxpayer bailouts of troubled financial institutions.

“The regulators clearly want even more capital,” Dimon said. “We’ll meet those requirements. But those measures aren’t a measure of risk at all. It is simply a measure of size. This company is as sound as it gets.”

While Dimon rails against mean regulators in Washington, he has played a key role in scuttling the financial reform law he so loathes. Last month, Dimon personally called members of Congress to whip votes for a spending bill that funded most of the government through the end of the fiscal year; the measure contained a provision gutting Dodd-Frank's regulation of risky financial instruments known as swaps.

Luke Brinker

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