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19 May, 2020 15:53

Fearing the baying mobs? Jamie Dimon roasted for belated show of caring about inequality

Fearing the baying mobs? Jamie Dimon roasted for belated show of caring about inequality

JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon has called for “rebuilding a more inclusive economy” in a letter to shareholders. The internet isn’t buying the plutocrat’s change of heart, however, reasoning he’s more concerned about populist rage.

Dimon used his company’s latest shareholder letter on Tuesday to plead for the rebuilding of “an economy that creates and sustains opportunity for dramatically more people, especially those who have been left behind for too long,” lamenting that the coronavirus pandemic had hit “low-income communities and people of color” hardest, “exacerbating… health and economic inequities that were already unacceptably pronounced.”

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The last few months have laid bare the reality that, even before the pandemic hit, far too many people were living on the edge,” he concluded.

But Dimon’s sudden concern for the downtrodden masses rang false to many on social media, who pointed out his $1.2 billion net worth and his firm’s history of benefiting from government largesse. 

During the 2008 financial crisis, JP Morgan acquired failed brokerage Bear Stearns and collapsed commercial bank Washington Mutual for bargain-basement prices with help from the US taxpayer, while many of those same taxpayers were being foreclosed on and thrown into the street. As such, the internet felt it was a bit late for a ‘come to Jesus’ moment.

Many suspected Dimon was hearing the distant clang of populist pitchforks and aiming to get ahead of the tide of rage by presenting himself as a friend to the needy.

Some assumed the billionaire had merely found a way to profit off the appearance of economic justice by placing his bank in charge of the “apparatus giving out goodies,” as it already has been as part of the Covid-19 bailout bill. Dimon boasted in his shareholder letter that JP Morgan had doled out over $30 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans, the troubled stimulus program meant to rescue small businesses that has instead seen a significant chunk of the funding go to large corporations that are anything but needy.

And a few suspected he was angling for a political appointment – presumably in a Democratic administration, given the lengths to which he’s gone to impugn President Donald Trump.

Dimon’s performative support for economic justice comes amid the highest unemployment levels since the US Bureau of Labor began keeping statistics. Over 36 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the Covid-19 pandemic arrived in the country, triggering panic and sweeping economic shutdowns. The poor and working classes have indeed been hit the worst – nearly 40 percent of families with incomes under $40,000 have found themselves without jobs, according to the Federal Reserve.

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Congress has requisitioned trillions to bail out banks like JP Morgan and large corporations, but money is hard to come by for lowly workers, who tend not to be able to contribute large sums to political campaigns. Given his track record of taking the savings of the poor and trickling them up to the wealthy, it’s unsurprising that so few are buying Dimon’s reinvention as Robin Hood.

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