Jamie Dimon, the head of JPMorgan Chase, was called before the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday to answer questions about a $2 billion trading loss suffered by his bank — the very type of reckless risk-taking that caused the 2008 financial crisis and pushed the economy into a recession, critics say. The press, expecting a combative exchange over government regulation and Wall Street greed, descended on Capitol Hill in droves to tweet and live-blog the hearing. But the senators disappointed, "tossing out mostly softball questions and generally declining to criticize the silver-haired executive," says Michael R. Crittenden at The Wall Street Journal. Did the Senate go too easy on Dimon?
Yes. The hearing was pathetic: Dimon was treated to a "kid-gloves session where the questions ranged from fawning to harmless," says Jonathan Weil at Bloomberg. The whole point was to find out how the bank lost so much money on a single trade, but "neither the public nor the senators know anything more of substance about" the trade than they did before the hearing. Maybe one day, an explanation for JPMorgan's mysterious loss will surface. "Just don't expect it to come from Congress."
"Congress didn't ask, and Jamie Dimon didn't tell"
Gallingly, Dimon ended up criticizing the senators: Instead of making Dimon sweat, the committee let the banker "rail against Congress' efforts at regulatory reform," says Mark Gongloff at The Huffington Post. Dimon particularly damned the Volcker Rule, a forthcoming regulation that would prevent JPMorgan and other banks from using customer deposits to make risky bets. But it's no surprise the senators just sat there and took it: Members of the banking committee have received a "boatload" of money in campaign donations from JPMorgan over the years.
"Jamie Dimon avoids hard questions at Senate hearing"
Actually, Dimon had some good advice: Sure, the senators "acted as though they were wholly owned subsidiaries of JPMorgan," but that could end up being a plus when it comes to running the country's finances, says Dana Milbank at The Washington Post. Dimon scolded Congress for failing to gets its fiscal house in order, and, much to the chagrin of Republicans on the committee, endorsed a plan to cut the budget deficit that would include "spending cuts and — gulp — increased tax revenue." If Dimon is as revered by the senators "as their fawning suggests, perhaps they'll take this advice seriously."
"The Wall Street Senate"