RollingStone January 30 2014
If you make a big show of punishing someone, and when you’re done they still don’t think they have a behavior problem, you probably picked the wrong punishment. Every parent on earth knows this implicitly – but does the Obama White House finally get it, too, now, after Jamie Dimon’s raise?
When the board of JP Morgan Chase gave its blowdried, tirelessly self-regarding CEO a whopping 74 percent raise – after a year in which the Justice Department blasted the bank with $20 billion in sanctions – it was one of those rare instances where Main Street and Wall Street were mostly in agreement.
Everyone from the Financial Times to Forbes.com to the Huffington Post decried the move. The Wall Street pundits mostly thought it was a dumb play by the Chase board from a self-interest perspective, one guaranteed to inspire further investigations by the government. Meanwhile, the non-financial press generally denounced the raise as a moral obscenity, yet another example of the serial coddling of Wall Street’s habitually overcompensated executive class.
Both groups were right. But to me the biggest news was how brutal an indictment Jamie’s raise was of the Obama/Holder Justice Department, which continues to profoundly misunderstand the mindset of the finance villains they claim to be regulating.
Chase’s responses to Holder’s record penalties have been hilarious. Their first move was to make sure people outside the penthouse boardroom took on all the pain, laying off 7,500 employees and freezing salaries for the non-CEO class of line employees.
Next, Chase’s board members sat down, put their misshapen heads together, considered the impact of this disastrous year of settlements, and decided to respond by more than doubling the take-home pay of the executive in charge, giving Dimon about $20 million in salary and equity.