On Tuesday, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon testified on Capitol Hill for the second time in a week, this time facing off against the House Financial Services Committee. Dimon faced tougher questions than those posed by the Senate Banking Committee, whose members were faulted for fawning over the banker. ("Mr. Dimon," said Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), it "occurs to me that an enterprise as big and powerful as yours, you've got a lot of firepower and you're — you're just huge.") Dimon was called to testify before both congressional panels because of a recent $2 billion-plus trading loss that has raised concerns over massive Wall Street banks' potential threat to the economy. Here, three key quotes from Dimon's House testimony:
1. "We don't gamble"
Dimon has insisted that the trade was a hedge — an investment intended to offset the potential loss from another investment. Lawmakers, however, had a different view. "You can call it protecting your investment or whatever," said Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), "but it is basically gambling." Ackerman also said banks like JPMorgan no longer facilitate investing and create wealth, but instead participate in a vast casino. "We don't gamble," Dimon retorted. "We do make mistakes."
2. "We're not too big to fail"
Lawmakers repeatedly asked Dimon whether JPMorgan, the country's largest bank, is "too big to fail" — meaning a bank so immense that its collapse could jeopardize the entire financial system, virtually assuring that the government would step in to rescue it. "Many of the American taxpayers are concerned [that] when big banks go bad, they're left holding the loss," said Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.). "No, we're not too big to fail," Dimon asserted. "I don't think there's any chance we're going to fail."
3. "We're not ready to break into a 'Kumbaya'"
Dimon was not the only one at the hearing on the receiving end of enemy fire. Democrats and Republicans attacked each other's views on financial regulation. "I am a little surprised by all of the hemming and hawing… over a private business losing private money when the federal government continues to lose billions of taxpayer dollars every day," complained Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.). Democrats, for their part, launched into tirades about Republican attempts to weaken financial regulation intended to prevent a repetition of the 2008 financial crisis. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) dryly commented on the Committee's disharmony: "You can see we're not ready to break into a 'Kumbaya.'"
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