Warren Buffett, the billionaire chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), said JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon has little room to bargain as regulators probe the sale of faulty mortgage bonds.
"If you're a financial institution and you're threatened with criminal prosecution, you have no ability to negotiate," Buffett told Bloomberg Television's Betty Liu in an interview today. "Basically, you've got to be like a wolf that bares its throat, you know, when it gets to the end. You cannot win."
Dimon reached a tentative $13 billion settlement to resolve civil disputes between JPMorgan and the U.S. government. The bank won't be released from criminal liabilities, according to a person familiar with the talks who asked not to be identified because they were private. Some of the practices under the probe relate to Bear Stearns Cos. and Washington Mutual, which Dimon bought in 2008 as the housing bubble burst.
"I think $13 billion is a lot of money, and I think Jamie has done a very good job of running JPMorgan," Buffett said. "He helped out the economy enormously when he took on Bear Stearns and he didn't get an indemnification clause," he said. "There wasn't even time for that sort of thing."
David Fuller's view It has been fashionable to bash banks throughout financial history and obviously not without some justification. That is why this ringing endorsement of Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase & Co by Warren Buffett is so interesting. Moreover, he is not just a shareholder who knows Dimon; Buffett is a shrewd, experienced observer who knows what is best for the economy and most of its hardworking citizens.
Most of us do not know Dimon or the other two people I am about to mention. However, ask yourself who you think is more important in terms of helping the US economy to grow: CEO Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, US Attorney General Eric Holder, or President Barack Obama?