Jamie Dimon on $2 billion not being a big deal, and why he’s ‘barely’ Democratic

Jamie Dimon. ()
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J.P. Morgan C.E.O. Jamie Dimon conceded on Sunday morning that his company's recent $2 billion loss wouldn't help his efforts to fight parts of the Dodd-Frank finance reform bill.

"This is a very unfortunate and inopportune time to have had this kind of mistake," he said on "Meet the Press."

The interview with Dimon, who has long been regarded as one of Wall Street's better risk managers, was also marked by some inopportune timing. He had taped a sit-down with host David Gregory on Wednesday, when he knew about the losses but before he could mention them, which compelled the network to request another interview once the massive trading loss became public.

On the second go-round, Dimon was contrite.

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"In hindsight, we took far too much risk," he said. "The strategy we had was badly vetted. It was badly monitored. It should never have happened."

Dimon downplayed the losses by saying the company would still make money, and he objected to the notion that he was an opponent of Dodd-Frank, saying he supported "70 percent of it."

In the earlier interview, Dimon, who was once seen as President Obama's point man on Wall Street, dodged a question about whether the country is better off now than it was four years ago by talking about the fundamental strength of the nation's economy.

Dimon voiced some limited support for the Simpson-Bowles reform proposal, and even for repealing the Bush tax cuts, but when asked directly if he was still a Democrat, Dimon said, "I would call myself a 'barely Democrat' at this point."

He explained it this way.

"I've gotten disturbed at some of the Democrats’ anti-business behavior, the sentiment, the attacks on work ethic and successful people," he said. "And I think it's very counterproductive. So it doesn't mean I don't have their values. I want jobs. I want a more equitable society. I don't mind paying higher taxes. I don't mind lifting up our--you know, I do think we're our brother's keeper. But I think that attacking that which creates all things is not the right way to go about it."

A subsequent segment with Senator Carl Levin, an antagonist of the banks, probably didn't make Dimon any more of a Democrat.

"The price will be that they will lose their battle in Washington to weaken the rule," Levin said of the $2 billion loss. "That is the real price. In terms of past activities, that's in the hands of people who are assessing whether or not there was any criminal wrongdoing. That's still in the hands, as far as I know, of the Justice Department and the [New York] prosecutors."

After Levin came an interview with the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, who, unsurprisingly, said the opposite.

Asked whether there needed to be more regulation in the wake of J.P. Morgan's losses, Priebus said, "I think we need less. I mean the fact of the matter is Dodd-Frank didn't work. The reality is we've got about five to ten banks in this country that earn our G.D.P. Those five to ten banks' assets make up a huge majority of this country's G.D.P. Now that's an issue. I do agree that this 'too big to fail' mentality is a problem, but I don't think Dodd-Frank fixed anything. In fact I think they made things worse."

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