On Tuesday, Fox Business anchor Charlie Gasparino grilled JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon at the financial company’s New York headquarters. It was a really great interview, covering a lot of ground. My friends at the network passed on a transcript, and here are some of the highlights worth noting — whether you own JPM stock, whether you invest in other big banks like Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) or Citigroup (NYSE:C) or whether you are just an investor interested in the overall health of the financial sector and the American economy.
My favorite quote: That Jamie Dimon credits Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner for “saving the system.” Really!
Also interesting: The JPMorgan CEO expects to put in another few years at JPM, but he ultimately would like to get out of the corner office and into the boardroom or even the classroom. After living in the hot seat at a big bank during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, you can understand his desire for a less stressful job!
Also telling is his concession that comprehensive financial oversight would be a good thing. Yes, you read that right — a big bank exec in favor of Wall Street regulations and bank reform, so long as there aren’t too many cooks in the kitchen.
Of course, he also goes on the record knocking the Volcker rule and Basel III bank capitalization rules … so take that with a grain of salt.
Here’s are excerpts from the Fox interview, as well as some transcribed highlights:
On how long he plans to run JPMorgan: “Hopefully many years. I serve at the pleasure of the board who can fire me tomorrow, but my intent would be to be here for three, five years or more.” (Get more on Jamie Dimon’s succession plans at JPMorgan Chase via the exclusive interview by Charlie Gasparino of Fox Business.)
On what Dimon plans to do afterwards: “I’ve been running big companies for a long time. I’m not going to run another big company. So it will probably be a bunch of stuff between teaching and investing and doing deals with friends and getting involved in maybe some boards.”
On financial regulatory overhaul:“One of the regulations I was in favor of is the Financial Services Oversight Committee, because one of the problems that we had is that we didn’t have one place, so we’ve got a lot of things unregulated or improperly regulated; gaps in the system. But the Financial Oversight Committee wasn’t given enough teeth. So here I’m complaining that that particular role should be given more teeth, not less teeth. Put someone in charge and say, ‘No, we’re not going to do A, B and C, because that’s bad for the system.’ We have 10 or 20 major regulators now. A lot of these regulations, all they’re looking at is what protects their own entity. They’re not looking across the whole system anymore.”
On his criticism of government regulation: “I haven’t been that critical on regulation. I have agreed with a lot of it. If you want a recovery in the global economy, the regulatory policy and government policy have to work together.” (Find out which regulations Jamie Dimon of JPM thinks are “un-American” via the exclusive Fox Business interview by Charlie Gasparino.)
On the validity of the Volcker Rule: “Proprietary trading had very little to do with the financial crisis or the root cause, yet the Volcker Rule, if you interpret it, you can’t even make markets for your clients.”
On the overall health of the United States economy: “I think America has a mild recovery, but it is broad-based and it could be strengthening as we speak. Once household formation goes up, which I think will follow jobs, we’re going to have to start building more homes … That alone adds 2 or 3 million jobs. So that is what I would call the beginning of a self-sustaining recovery. More jobs, more incomes, more jobs, more homes, more people employed, more kids moving out of their parents’ homes.”
On the Occupy Wall Street movement: “There are parts I agree with and there are parts I don’t. It is fair for the average American to say ‘The major institutions of America let me down.’ That’s true. And it is fair, generically, to say, well, that’s predominantly Wall Street and Washington. I think once you go beyond that and say all politicians, all banks, all bankers, that’s terrible. I don’t accept that.” (Watch more from Dimon about his feelings on OWS and President Obama via the exclusive interview on Fox Business.)
On whether the fact that shares of JPMorgan fell 22% this year worries him: “Surprisingly, not really. It kind of hurts a little bit to work this hard for so long and the stock has gone down and not up. On the other hand, we did have record earnings. But if you build a company, serve clients, open branches, hire banker assistants, people marketing, earn a fair profit, do great stuff for the communities you’re in, the stock will eventually reflect that.” (Watch Dimon’s comments about the U.S. banking system in general via the exclusive Fox interview.)
On how taking TARP money gave the company “a black mark” but helped the country as a whole: “I didn’t anticipate that. I think Hank Paulson, with Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke, saved the system. And I think they took some very bold and dramatic action that they had the guts and brains to take at the precise point in time. It was a tsunami of stuff. And they realized that they had to stop it from sinking. And, you know, Warren Buffet called it Pearl Harbor and they took the action. It had unintended consequences, but I didn’t realize that one of them would be complete vilification of all banks and complete vilification of all the people that took TARP. I do think it helped stave off a far worse situation.”
Jeff Reeves is the editor of InvestorPlace.com. Write him at editor@investorplace??.com, follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP and become a fan of InvestorPlace on Facebook. Jeff Reeves holds a position in Alcoa, but no other publicly traded stocks.