Dimon defends bankers against critics at Davos

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, center, told executives

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, center, told executives in Davos, Switzerland, yesterday that bankers are “doing the right thing.” (Jan. 23, 2013) (Credit: Bloomberg )

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DAVOS, Switzerland -- Leading bankers at the World Economic Forum here are on the defensive amid demands to regulate their industry more closely following the financial crisis that battered the global economy.

Bankers have been widely blamed for the crisis that has dramatically reduced the living standards of many in the world, whether they're working or not.

"We're doing the right thing," Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., said Wednesday.

Dimon, whose pay was cut 50 percent by directors following a multibillion-dollar trading loss last year, stressed the key role of banks in making the economy work, and insisted many of the bad practices of the recent past were being phased out.

Regulators, he said, were "trying to do too much, too fast."

Banks have spent much of the past few years in a bunker, getting on with shoring up their tarnished finances -- and that's spelled difficulties for many in need of financing.

Bankers have borne a large chunk of the blame -- many say the lion's share -- for the fragile state of the global economy. A United Nations body said Tuesday that the number of unemployed around the world will rise to a record 202 million this year, while many countries, particularly in Europe, struggle to post any growth at all.

Dimon said the banks were getting an overly bad press, that there was "huge misinformation" out there about what they are doing to get things right.

For example, he said, banks had "twice as much capital as before" to pad against losses and that JPMorgan had helped clients raise money for socially important projects in schools and hospitals.

He spoke in Davos at the annual gathering of more than 2,500 corporate and political leaders.

Among those questioning his and other bankers' assertion that the financial sector is doing fine and doing its job was Min Zhu, deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

"The financial sector is too big," he said. "The products are too complicated. Transparency is not there. In this sense, I say the financial sector still has a long way to go."

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