Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Nothing polite can be said about such analysis, Senator

J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, today, could have quoted George Stigler's retort (the title of this blogpost) of many decades ago when the Nobel prize winning economist had been forced to sit through a pandering politician's questioning.

There were several opportunities, most notably Oregon's senator, Jeff Merkley, who fallaciously suggested that Mr. Dimon's bank would have failed had it not been for a bailout by TARP in 2008.  Dimon politely, and truthfully,  replied that the senator was 'misinformed'.

That his bank did not need, nor request, any TARP loans, that that was the idea of the FDIC, Treasury and Fed officials who were worried that it might look bad if only banks that actually needed such help were to receive it.  Essentially, JPMC was forced to 'take some for the team', and did (under duress).

Senator Merkely could have learned that by reading one of several newspaper accounts of the famous meeting where the bankers had been corralled by Sec'y Hank Paulson.  Rather than graciously thanking Mr. Dimon for correcting his misinformation, the Oregon lawmaker took the tried and true route of interrupting the witness and admonishing him for actually answering his questions.  After all, the Oregonian only had five minutes to preen, and his time was being wasted with facts.

Equally at sea were senators Menendez of New Jersey, Kohl of Wisconsin--apparently alarmed at the strong capital structure of JPMC relative to its competitors, and Tester of Montana--who dragged his former senate colleague Jon Corzine's MF Global into the conversation, seemingly to assuage a few Montana ranchers who'd lost money, not at JPMC, but at that now bankrupt firm.

Will Rogers famously opined that we're all ignorant, just about different things.  Which makes politics such a delight to observe (thanks to C-Span).

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