There’s definitely something to Simon Johnson’s new theory that it’s no longer about “Too Big To Fail” but rather “Too Global To Fail.”
In a big piece at The New Republic, the former IMF economist and professor argues that the key to escaping the Dodd-Frank resolution authority is to become so big internationally that governments around the world see the need to ensure your survival.
This June, Dimon returned from a two-week visit to China, India, and Russia, and announced an even more aggressive expansion. Senior executives were ordered to look beyond Western Europe—where most of JP Morgan’s foreign investment banking is focused—and seek opportunities in emerging markets. In addition to Brazil, Russia, India, and China—the emerging powerhouses known as the BRIC countries—JP Morgan is looking at Southeast Asian nations, such as Vietnam and Indonesia, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. The bank plans to triple its private banking assets in Asia over the next five years and hopes to make Asia the source of half its non-domestic business. “We are going to get the whole company behind [the international strategy],” Dimon told The New York Times.
If Dimon is successful, he will create a bank that is not just too big to fail, but too global to fail. There is no conspiracy here: JP Morgan is simply responding to the available incentives. This international push is terrific corporate strategy and completely legal under our reformed financial system. But it also happens to be very dangerous for the rest of us.
It’s not just JPMorgan, he reckons. All the big banks will begin pursuing the strategy of getting so global that a US-only wind-down isn’t a reasonable end, come a crisis.