Source: Reuters
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Pity Jamie Dimon.

It was mid-May when he got the news: “JPMorgan shareholders reject Jamie Dimon’s $50 million bonus”, according to The Wall Street Journal.

It took a couple of weeks, but he surfaced next in The Sydney Morning Herald, which reported that “JPMorgan chief Jamie Dimon is bracing for an economic ‘hurricane’”.

Which makes sense. You spend $50 million in your head, and the money doesn’t come, there are gonna be some rough seas ahead.

With just $2 billion to his name, the smooth-talking CEO is now forced to make ends meet on his base salary of around $34 million per year, surely an annus horribilis, everything being relative; can’t be easy banking on $84 million and then having to settle for a salary about on par with a good second baseman, or a golfer in the new Saudi Arabian league.

I think we can all agree that something needs to be done, and done quickly, if Mr Dimon’s fall is to be cushioned, as a responsible citizen should want. It was, after all, Dostoevsky or Gandhi who said something along the lines of: “The measure of any civilised society is how it treats its billionaires …” Time to step up.

They are America’s ambassadors around the world (and in space), for heaven’s sake. Our heroes. Our hope. It would hurt any of them, losing $50 million in a day, in a single vote of shareholders. This billionaire needs our support.

The Mayor of New York was probably trying to be helpful when he suggested the banker ditch the limousine and commute to work on the subway. But how, for the love of exchange-traded derivatives, is that going to help? Oh, my dear Mr Mayor, we all know the limos idling near the canopies of Park Avenue are sent by the home office, to make sure the big cheese gets to the office all right.

This one didn’t work his ass off for the last 42 years so he could become a straphanger at 66, riding in elevators all sweaty and smelling faintly of eau de pee. In a reality governed by the laws of probability, there are some things that just won’t happen.

But imagine if everyone in the world chipped in toward a Jamie Dimon Relief Fund (I know what you’re thinking — didn’t we do that already with the TARP money?): a Go Fund Him account so the guy can keep on keeping on exactly as he imagined he would … had the shareholders not been so recklessly stingy.

It would be nice — would it not? — to rest easy knowing that Mr Dimon does not have to cut corners this summer; does not have to adjust his britches to the new reality of a flat $34 million; does not have to decide between butter and a better Gulfstream … a life with no hurricanes, no RSVPs in the negative, and no traces of poverty (at least in one household).

Say all eight billion of us sent him just one American dime, like FDR with the polio vaccine. That would get him ahead of the game for a few years, a small price to pay for keeping Chase on top — $4 trillion in assets — and Mr Dimon at his 400-to-one pay ratio. King of the hill, top of the heap, world No. 1 in lending to the fossil fuel gang, a worthy successor to J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller.

What’s not to like about Jamie Dimon? When he had to go to Hong Kong — which has a zero-tolerance policy toward through traffic — they let him in and out without having to bother with all the COVID protocols. So, they love him, they trust him.

He’s handsome, personable, and by all accounts brilliant. At the high school we both attended, they were still talking about him years after he left, that he wasn’t just a brainiac, but cool, too — Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, only with straight As. He went on to study economics and psychology at Tufts, before heading to Harvard where he got an MBA and his wife.

A numbers freak who gets up and consumes data for breakfast, Mr Dimon understands the power of money, the virtues of moderation, and the importance of a polished public persona: tricky stuff when you’re the world’s best-known banker, and not everyone loves your breed. Of course, on the rare occasion, he does something off-key — like the time he sent out Christmas cards that showed Dimon messing around with a tennis racquet and balls while his wife and three daughters laughed along at his insouciance inside their poshly decorated New York apartment. “Tone-deaf!”, the critics wailed.

As an educated man, he’s probably familiar with Steinbeck, who wrote: “It has always seemed strange to me,” said Doc. “The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first, they love the produce of the second.”

Today, Jamie Dimon is the King of Finance, the longest-tenured CEO in Big Bankdom, a White House regular, a resident of Park Avenue, Bedford and the world. It isn’t right that he sees a “non-benign environment [with] bad outcomes” ahead, according to CNN. Especially considering only two weeks earlier, before the $50 million news, he had forecast “big storm clouds … that might dissipate” (credit Chauncey Gardner?).

In fact, a quick glance at the public Mr Dimon reveals nothing out of the ordinary, which in this day and age makes him special. Any crimes his bank may have committed over the years would be of the complicated variety — complex shenanigans having to do with intricate algorithms and the number of pancakes consumed by the US each year, things it would take an incentivised mind to comprehend. And if there were any crimes — alleged, unproven — they have been settled every time with fines, sometimes in the billions … billions, but consider the alternative.

One thing about Jamie Dimon, he has always hated getting gypped, whether it’s an extra white wine spritzer on the tab at JG Melon’s or $50 million up in smoke, and frankly I worry how this no-bonus-for-you thing could affect the economy. Not that I’m much of a stakeholder, but the possibilities are endless — the awful things Mr Dimon could do. It’s like pissing off your barber or the person who handles your food … you just don’t.

If this isn’t a clear case for global charity, then I don’t know what is. Jamie Dimon needs our help, people. Dig deep, the storm is brewing. We should avoid it as one.

Jeff Blanchard is a freelance writer. He has worked for the Associated Press, CBS News and the Wall Street Transcript, has written for The Cape Cod Times, was editor of The Cape Codder and was an op-ed contributor to the Providence Journal.

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