Banking CEO talks global economy with employees, public

Jamie Dimon has been JP Morgan Chase & Co.’s CEO since March of 2008.  |  Courtesy of Cameron McHugh

Jamie Dimon (left) has been JP Morgan Chase & Co.’s CEO since March of 2008. | Courtesy of Cameron McHugh

Issues including the global economy, particularly the Euro-crisis, sovereign debt and the effect of the financial crisis on capital markets worldwide were the focus of a lecture given by JP Morgan Chase & Co’s chief executive officer Jamie Dimon on Wednesday at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.

Dimon said there is an increase in global demand for financial services because of the increase in educated workers in foreign markets. He said the amount of clients has doubled worldwide through the increase in client needs within global capital markets.

JP Morgan Chase & Co. does not focus on developed and developing countries, but rather on addressing the needs of each individual country. He said he asks where the clients are going to determine where his company goes.

Social responsibility is also important among corporations, and corporate executives should not be able to run away with large amounts of money while their companies crumble beneath them, he said. His company spends $300 million a year on philanthropic projects and he highlighted the fact that JP Morgan & Chase did not require a federal bail-out.

The speech was followed by a questionnaire moderated by Edward P. Djerejian, former US ambassador to Syria and Israel and the founding director of the Baker Institute for Public Policy. The questionnaire focused on student loans, Occupy Wall Street and the “too big to fail” mentality of banks.

Many banks are skeptical about giving loans to university students because graduation rates are about 50 percent, and they are concerned about the ability of students to pay the loans back in the future, Dimon said.

He said some banks engaged in practices that hurt the reputation of the financial industry, and if people wanted to change the industry practices, they would have to become involved in financially supporting hospitals and educational systems through supportive loans rather than protesting on the streets.

Regarding the US corporate tax structure and the proposed “Buffett Tax,” Dimon emphasized the importance of America’s ability to maintain a competitiveness over foreign countries. He said he and his colleagues have been presented with scenarios in which companies would have to choose new locations for manufacturing plants, and they always knew the plant would go overseas because of the favorable tax structures the countries offered.

He said creating jobs in the US should be a priority. Small businesses alone do not create jobs, he said, because large companies provide the capital required for the manufacturing and helped keep smaller companies afloat, and American jobs were created by the ability of these larger companies to continue servicing smaller ones.

Dimon said some big banks are necessary because there is a global market that requires servicing from larger banks, and large companies like Caterpillar cannot depend on smaller community banks to provide the services for their global operations and financial services.

At the end of the lecture Dimon stuck around to talk to and take pictures with members of the audience.

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