Sign in / Join
2246

Trump Surprisingly Not the Reason Jamie Dimon Says Being an American Has Become an “Embarrassment”

Disappointed in all of you.By Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg/Getty Images.

Earlier today, J.P. Morgan Chase announced some very good second-quarter numbers: $7 billion in profit, bringing the last 12 months of profit to an astronomical $26.5 billion, more than any other bank has ever made in the history of the United States. But if you thought the news would have put C.E.O Jamie Dimon in a celebratory, break-out-the-party-hats-and-streamers mood, you thought very wrong. Instead, to listen in on the pair of conference calls held with analysts and the media was to hear a man on the other line who sounded like he was this close to flipping over his desk, putting his fist through his office wall, and storming out of the Park Avenue building.

And sure, part of that anger could be attributed to fact that trading was down, and the bank’s shares fell 2 percent, but clearly, there was something much bigger eating away at J.D., given that this is what he had to say during the call the company held with analysts:

“We have become one of the most bureaucratic, confusing, litigious societies on the planet. It’s almost an embarrassment being an American citizen traveling around the world and listening to the stupid sh*t we have to deal with in this country. And at one point we all have to get our act together or we won’t do what we’re supposed to [do] for the average Americans. And unfortunately people write about this saying like it’s for corporations. It’s not for corporations. Competitive taxes are important for business and business growth, which is important for jobs and wage growth. And honestly, we should be ringing that alarm bell, every single one of you, every time you talk to a client.”

If it sounded as if he was angry, he was! But the bulk of Dimon’s rage was reserved for reporters, whom he told in an earlier call: “The United States of America has to start to focus on policy which is good for all Americans, and that is infrastructure, regulation, taxation, education. Why you guys don’t write about it every day is completely beyond me. And, like, who cares about fixed-income trading in the last two weeks of June? I mean, seriously.”

Certainly, one could make the case that the people who care about fixed-income trading in the last two weeks of June are 1) the C.E.O. of one of the world’s largest banks and 2) financial journalists, i.e., the people Dimon was talking to. Clearly, though, that wasn’t the moment to point that out to him. Instead, one brave soul asked if perhaps the true source of Dimon’s frustration was the Trump administration, given its inability to make good on any of its promises for infrastructure projects and tax reform, while appointing a woman like Betsy Devos as the secretary of education, it seemed like a fair question! But, according to Dimon, Team Trump—whose continued support from the J.P. Morgan C.E.O. baffles those who know him as not just a life-long Democrat but someone with little to no tolerance for B.S.— is not the problem at all.

“No,” he said. “That was frustration with you.”

If you would like to receive the Levin Report in your inbox daily, click here to subscribe.

The Trump administration is rife with conflicts of interest, part MCMLXII

Considering that, as president, Trump has not only refused to divest himself of his business interests but goes out of his way to regularly promote them, whether it’s hosting foreign leaders at his Mar-a-Lago resort or working in references to how great the chocolate cake at said resort is during interviews about bombing Syria, it obviously should not come as a surprise that his administration is teeming with conflicts of interest. But it’s still a fun exercise to flag the ones that come up practically daily, and today’s involves First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner.

The Journal reports that at a dinner for venture capitalists and tech leaders held at the White House last month to discuss policy with the president, the majority of the guests were executives from major companies you’ve all heard of, like Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, and Microsoft, save for one: the C.E.O. of a teeny tiny start-up called OpenGov, which was valued at a relatively piddling $180 million in 2015. Presumably, you know where this is going:

Mr. Kushner’s brother, through a venture-capital firm, is a part owner of OpenGov, according to government disclosures and data from Dow Jones VentureSource. Until earlier this year, Mr. Kushner owned stakes in the venture-capital firm that he sold to his brother, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Kushner’s connection to OpenGov isn’t widely known . . . Mr. Kushner’s connection to OpenGov is through Thrive Capital, a venture-capital firm run by his brother, Joshua Kushner. Thrive is one of four investors that OpenGov lists on its Web site.

While Jared did manage to remember to list Thrive on his financial-disclosure forms—unlike some others, wherein amnesia apparently struck, specific holdings, like OpenGov, were not detailed.

In related news, Stephen Feinberg, the private-equity guru billionaire who runs Cerberus Capital Management—whose biggest defense holding is DynCorp International—has been reportedly helping Kushner and Steve Bannon come up with “private-sector alternatives to the Department of Defense’s plan to send more troops to Afghanistan.”

Reformed Wells Fargo can’t believe how mean Elizabeth Warren is being

Earlier this week, during Fed chair Janet Yellen’s Q&A with a Senate panel, Senator Elizabeth Warren reiterated her call for the central bank to use its authority to remove the 13 Wells Fargo board members that were around during bank’s little sham accounts era. Wells C.F.O. John Shrewsberry heard about those comments and apparently is deeply wounded about the fact that Warren didn’t get into all the good the bank has done as it attempts to turn itself into a company that doesn’t create upwards of 2 million fake account in customers’ names without their consent.

“There’s a lot of work going on,” Shrewsberry said on CNBC Friday. “She didn’t refer to any of that, which is fine. But we’re talking about it with our customers, with our stakeholders including our investors and etc., and things are working.”

Martin Shkreli provides master class in how not to leave a company

Are you the C.E.O. of a company big or small? Do you imagine there might be a time when your board decides it’s time for you to go? Even if you think things are peachy-keen right now, perhaps take a moment to file this case study away to refer to in the event that you and your organization choose to part ways:

A scorned Martin Shkreli “went on the warpath” after being ousted as C.E.O. by the board of the drug company he had founded, and threatened his successor, that current chief executive testified Friday. Shkreli said, “I had never dealt with anyone like him,” testified Retrophin C.E.O. Stephen Aselage in Brooklyn, New York, federal court. Shkreli warned him, “My family and I would suffer as a result of my actions,” said Aselage, as he described an October 2014 phone call with Shkreli after he was booted from the company.

According to Aselage, Shrkeli vowed to bring “an unremitting wave of litigation” down on the new C.E.O.’s head, and then broke into the Retrophin’s offices with three of his friends and downloaded files from the company’s computers, which is always a bad idea no matter how tempting it may seem when you’re pitching it to you buddies.

D.J. D-Sol

And finally, the palate cleanser we all so desperately need but didn’t know to ask for, courtesy of this delightful report from Dealbook’s Kate Kelly re: what Goldman Sachs’s co-president and possible heir to the throne David Solomon gets up to in his free time:

In recent years, he has performed regularly as a D.J., according to associates, mixing and tweaking electronic dance music for a live audience. It is the sort of pursuit that could inspire guffaws among the executive’s 50-something peers while appealing to a younger generation of Wall Street talent that rejects the industry’s staid culture. . . . Mr. Solomon’s hobby has become a more or less monthly gig, with recent stops in New York, Miami, and the Bahamas, all noted on the Instagram page. (Among the Manhattan venues where he has spun, according to the page, are Beautique in East Midtown and the Whales on Clinton Street.)

According to Kelly, Solomon’s stage name is D-Sol. Obviously, we hope and pray that that at some point over the summer, he’s joined in the D.J. booth by L. Blanks.

Elsewhere!

Earnings Take Shine Off Bank Stocks (W.S.J.)

Uber rival Grab raising $2 billion from SoftBank, China’s Didi (Reuters)

Startup Selling $400 Juicers Plans to Lower Prices and Cut 25% of Staff (Fortune)

Sprint has reportedly approached Warren Buffett about an investment (Business Insider)

Hedge Fund Consultant’s Hearing, Smelling Impairments Land Him In Jail (Dealbreaker)

Bitcoin’s Existential Crisis (Financial Times)

The Man Behind Activist Investors’ Biggest Bets (W.S.J.)

Vanguard C.E.O. Bill McNabb to Step Down (W.S.J.)

Trump: “I’m a tremendous fracker” (CNN)