This guy I know, Jamie, plays the ponies. He’s convinced he’s got a special gift for picking the winning nag.
As evidence, he talks often of a fabled day at the track a few years ago. It was a day of longshot winners. All his buddies had to hit the ATMs pretty hard. They lost every cent, but Jamie managed to come out even.
I went to the track the other day, to watch Jamie’s magic touch in action. Before the third race, I asked, “So who do you like?”
“This 12-1 shot, Pride Goeth,” Jamie said. “Got a grand on him to win, but I also bet the favorite. It’s called hedging your bets. That way I can’t lose.”
“I understand hedging,” I replied, “but you can still lose. Like if any of the other horses wins.”
Jamie’s face darkened. He walked away. Moments later, he came back holding more betting slips: “I bet on every horse in the field; now I can’t lose.”
I shook my head: “No, if the favorite wins, you lose your shirt.”
And so he did.
A confession: Jamie isn’t real. He’s a fictional standin for Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase. JPMorgan is a big investment bank that survived the 2007 meltdown on Wall Street relatively unscathed.
This apparently gave Dimon the impression that he was a god who walks the earth. Since then, he’s been lecturing the rest of us, including the President of the United States, about what we are and are not allowed to do to regulate “his” financial industry.
He tells us constantly we’re not smart enough to understand the complex moves his firm makes.
Well, evidently, neither is he. JPMorgan just endured staggering losses, which may reach $5 billion, on a series of bad bets. Several top execs have walked the plank, but Dimon just got his $23 million pay package ratified by sheep-like shareholders.
Accountability is for other people.
Worse, Dimon has the gall to keep up his lectures against proposed reforms of Wall Street, including rules that would have limited precisely the moves that got JPMorgan in trouble.
Now, I’m not an Occupy Wall Street kind of guy. And my job title has the words “civic dialogue” in it.
But I still have to say this: Jamie Dimon, shut the hell up. Go sit in the corner. You do not get to tell us what we can do about the reckless, destructive greed of your industry. You are an an author of it.
So just … be … quiet.