The Press Loves King Jamie

jamiedimon tbi

Thanks in part to Matt Taibbi, no bank is having a worse PR moment than Goldman Sachs (GS). The Economist’s Free Exchange blog notes that journalists are now out to out-pitchfork each other, in a game to see who can make the most over-the-top anti-Goldman argument.

The flipside: JPMorgan (JPM) and its charismatic (always, charismatic) CEO Jamie Dimon.

In NY Magazine, Heidi Moore examines the curious case of Dimon-love that’s affected everyone.

If there were not a God, Voltaire famously said, we would have had to create him. With the empirical evidence still out on the Big Guy, the financial press built a pretty strong case for Jamie Dimon as an adequate replacement during last week’s bank earnings reports.

In a week when four big banks — Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan — announced profits, only Dimon’s shop, JPMorgan, was greeted with pure, unadulterated adoration. It’s a good lesson in Wall Street brand management. Goldman Sachs earned more money — $3.44 billion to JPMorgan’s $2.72 billion — and, like JPMorgan, it paid back its TARP money. But Goldman, alas, has that whole “vampire squid” thing to contend with now, which means a public profile that defines any profits by the firm as downright ostentatious. Goldman’s profitability seems almost supernatural — the New York Times gleefully noted that rivals call the firm’s traders “orcs” — which made the firm a target of mockery by everyone from The New Yorker (“don’t wear your crowns outside the office”) to Jon Stewart (“The bailouts are working … for Goldman Sachs”).

JPMorgan’s profits appeared politely restrained in contrast — but more important, its charismatic, press-friendly chief executive, Jamie Dimon, enjoys a reputation as the biggest hard-arse on Wall Street. Who wants to mess with Jamie? Just to make the distinction clear, the Times featured a picture of Dimon towering a full head above Blankfein as they strode across the White House grounds. The caption, “one bank chief holds sway,” strongly implied that the other didn’t.

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