Barney Frank (one of the authors of Dodd-Frank financial regulatory legislation) is known for being tough on Wall Street. He’s also known for doing in his own style: with quick wit and a sharp tongue.
So we were especially looking forward to the five minutes he would get to question Jamie Dimon at a House Financial Services committee meeting today.
We weren’t disappointed. Dimon gave a fair showing, but it’s really hard to beat the man with the right to question — it’s even harder if that man is Barney Frank.
Frank started by asking Dimon if he believed that the CFTC could do its job well with a $180 million budget. Dimon said he wasn’t sure.
“I’m disappointed,” Frank responded…”You seem so well informed in matters of government.”
Burn. And the pain continued. Frank brought up legislation floating around that would have exempted the kinds of trades the JPM London CIO was making from the Volcker Rule. “Do you believe this legislation should be passed,” he asked.
Dimon said yes, and after some back and forth Frank once again said he was disappointed in him. “You say you have a fortress balance sheet but what about others?”
Dimon then tried to throw out the line that seemed to work so well in the Senate: “I don’t’ know but you should all take comfort in the fact that American banks are far more capitalised…”
Frank wasn’t having it. “That’s not the question…,” he interrupted. “You say you have a fortress balance sheet… like there’s something special about your bank…”
Dimon interrupted, but Frank wasn’t having that either.
“That’s not the question Mr. Dimon please don’t filibuster… What about claw backs?”
Dimon replied that that was up to his board.
Frank gave him a look that said ‘fair enough’ and said, “will your compensation be up for consideration?”
Dimon, again, said it was up to his board.
Frank yielded, Dimon started breathing again.
That, dear readers, is quality television.