January 26th, 2012


CNN’s Richard quest in Davos speaks with JP Morgan’s CEO on the U.S. Presidential Election , taxes and the state of the economy

***Please credit CNN/Quest Means Business***


Full interview will run in Quest Means Business 1900 GMT/2000CET


Dimon: My gut feeling is that it’s going to be close. The candidate is not doing great. I think the candidate is going to be Mitt Romney

Quest: You think it is going to be Romney?

Dimon: That’s my personal opinion, I could be dead wrong. That’s my opinion who the Republican candidate is going to be, because I think he’s an experienced, knowledgeable, successful guy.  He clearly doesn’t like talking about himself, or his money very much, but he’ll get through that. Then you have President Obama who is also a very experienced, great campaigner, a great speech giver, but he’s lost some of the independence, some of the youth and this red state, blue state thing isn’t going to happen the same way it happened last time. So, I think the Republican campaign will be better than John McCain four years ago, so it’s possibly going to have a pretty close race. I don’t know.

Quest: You just alluded to Romney and his money. When you see the numbers, I’m aware that you obviously earn more than a buck or two yourself –  but you are the head of a bank. When you see the numbers and you see the levels of inequality, are you worried that there is an entrenchment, whether it’s in Occupy, or in civil society, the haves verses the have nots, is now becoming an entrenched view within society?

Dimon: It’s becoming an  entrenched view, but here’s the parts I agree with okay. People are angry because a lot of people in Wall Street made a lot of money as companies went down the tubes, and I agree with them. That’s a total disgrace. But look at JP Morgan we never had parachutes, we never had change of control… we’ve always risked just of results, we’ve always looked at results over a long period of time, we never had special severance packages and stuff like that, we’ve always paid a lot in stock, so a lot of new rules being promulgated, we were always doing them.

I do think we’re all better off if society gets increasingly equitable, the question we’ve got to deal with is, how do you do that?  And I’ll mention just two: one is progressive taxation, which you know we are very much in favour of; the second we have got to do a better job at giving people better opportunities.  In the United States, half the kids in inner city schools don’t graduate, that’s the biggest sin we made in our country. Right there.

Quest: If you were to discover that your effective tax rate was 15%, what would you say?

Dimon: I’d be surprised. In the United States, if you earn money, like waged income, that’s taxed, for me, 35% plus other ten-state local. Dividends and capital gains are 15. I have some of that but most is waged income. But I think people that pay taxes, pay taxes under the law, I’m not saying it’s right, I think we should probably change some of those rules. I’m not sure about the buffer rule but I believe in progressive taxation.

Quest: Where on the curve of recovery do you think we are at the moment?

Dimon: Right here, but I want to say, it’s a really complex job, I think they’re going to get ahead of it. The one thing that I would hope for is that I wish people collaborated more, you know, business, regulators, governments. It’s completely obvious to me that governments, banks, we’re all acting at counter purposes. I was in Berlin and the government, the ECB was saying lend more money and do all these things, and the regulators and examiners and boards are saying, don’t have any more exposure in Europe, what would you want?

Quest: That’s an important point isn’t it?

Dimon: We could do either. But you can’t do it if you’re going to be punished by regulators. I think it would be good if we all got together and said, ok what are we trying to accomplish? Because I think anything can be accomplished.