By Joseph N. DiStefano
Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and one of the few big-bank bosses to keep his job after the Great Recession, will keep advising President Trump even when they might disagree, Dimon told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting at its Delaware Technology Center north of Wilmington.
“Trump is the pilot flying our airplane,” and as “a patriot” Dimon will continue to serve on a Presidential advisory panel, even though he may not “agree with all his policies,” he said during a shareholder question-and-answer session.
Boasting the bank had boosted profits — which totaled nearly $25 billion last year, on sales of $99 billion — in six of the past seven years, Dimon complained that “something is holding (the U.S.) back” from faster economic growth.
He called for “regulatory reform” including an easing of capital requirements and policies restricting lending that were enacted in the Dodd-Frank reform law of 2010. That law was intended to prevent JPMorgan and other banks from repeating the reckless loan financing that nearly wrecked the financial system in 2008.
Dimon stood at the podium and said little as he was hammered by a string of activists speaking during the investor question period. Ana Maria Archila, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy, Brooklyn, N.Y., led several speakers calling on JPMorgan to stop financing companies that operate immigrant detention centers for the government in furtherance of what she called “racist” national policy.
JPMorgan “has always supported Mexico,” Dimon said in reply. (The bank has helped finance U.S. and Mexican corporations in Mexico, among other clients.) “We believe in free and fair trade with Mexico,” he added, without noting Trump’s past criticism of U.S.-Mexico trade relations. “We will look into these prisons,” he promised, adding that “I’m not sure I agree” with criticism of U.S. immigrant detention policy.
Andy Morrison, campaigns director for the New Economy Project in New York, accused Dimon and his bank of making large financial contributions to U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and other members of Congress who want to stop or restrict the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other government agencies that have punished JPMorgan for ripping off borrowers.
Dimon said he was not trying to eliminate the CFPB entirely. He said he “never called for wholesale repeal” of the Dodd-Frank law, but “it is time to review” its impact on “first-time homebuyers,” including, he noted, “immigrants.”
Vanloads of protesters rallied at a shopping center but were turned away at the gate of the bank’s Delaware Technology Center, according to Daniel Altschuler, a spokesman for Make The Road New York, an activist group. The center was guarded by private security and more than a dozen Delaware state troopers. (Updated)
Dimon noted his company’s predecessor banks had been active in Wilmington since at least 1915, when J.P. Morgan financed DuPont Co.’s shipments of explosives to armies on the lethal European battlefields of World War I.
The bank now employs nearly 10,000 staff in northern Delaware, including the company’s credit card headquarters and units of its investment, tech, and other business units, eclipsing the shrunken DuPont Co. and the Bank of America (formerly MBNA) card center as the state’s largest business employer, noted Thomas Horne, JPMorgan’s top Delaware executive.
Dimon, Comcast executive Steve Burke, and other JPMorgan directors, who stayed at the Hotel du Pont in downtown Wilmington the night before and were served by students at William Penn High School in New Castle, ran unopposed to keep their seats and were each reelected with at least 96 percent of votes, the company said.
A shareholder resolution to separate Dimon’s board and CEO roles failed with 33 percent of shareholders’ support, and other shareholder resolutions opposed by the company also went down.