CNBC cannot see beyond shareholder value in its evaluation of a CEO. Alex Pareen on CNBC brings up JPM's series of violations, enormous fines, and bad PR, and claims that JPM is simply too big in its current form to be well managed from all perspectives (not merely stock price). Defending Jamie Dimon, Maria Bartiromo makes fun of the NY Times and calls the government's enforcements of regulations a "witchhunt." (Video below)
Joshua Brown: "Many TV journos live in a bubble with regard to Jamie Dimon. I believe this is because he's so charming, handsome and accomplished that it's impossible for them to see the size of the fines or the sheer quantity of the bank's transgressions."
I don’t know which producer at CNBC had the genius idea of asking Alex Pareene on to discuss Jamie Dimon with Dimon’s biggest cheerleaders, but the result was truly great television. What’s more, as Kevin Roose says, it illustrates “the divide between the finance media bubble and the normals” in an uncommonly stark and compelling manner.
The whole segment is well worth watching, but the tone is perfectly set at the very beginning:
Maria Bartiromo: Alex, to you first. Legal problems aside, JP Morgan remains one of the best, if not the best performing major bank in the world today. You believe the leader of that bank should step down?
Alex Pareene: I think that any time you’re looking at the greatest fine in the history of Wall Street regulation, it’s really worth asking should this guy stay in his job. In any other industry — I can’t think of another industry. If you managed a restaurant, and it got the biggest health department fine in the history of restaurants, no one would say “Yeah, but the restaurant’s making a lot of money. There’s only a little bit of poison in the food.”
This is a very strong point by Pareene — and it’s a point which was well taken by Barclays. When the UK bank was fined $450 million last year for its role in the Libor scandal, its CEO duly resigned. After all, a $450 million fine is prima facie evidence that the CEO really isn’t in control of his bank.
But $450 million is a rounding error with respect to the kind of fines that Dimon is now talking about paying — $4 billion, $11 billion, $20 billion, who knows where this will stop. Tim Fernholz has a good roundup of all the various things that JP Morgan is in trouble for; Libor manipulation is at #5 on his list of seven oustanding investigations — on top of another four settled investigations….