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JPMorgan chief criticizes regulations

Dimon says he’s worried ‘contrived’ rules could end up hurting job growth

Scott Eells/Bloomberg/file

James Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, defended the banking industry in his 38-page letter to shareholders.

NEW YORK - Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, used his annual letter to shareholders to rail against “contrived’’ and confusing financial rules that he said may stymie lending.

US and international officials “made the recovery worse than it otherwise would have been,’’ Dimon wrote in the letter released Wednesday. They almost botched the US debt-ceiling vote, constrained bank leverage “at precisely the wrong time,’’ and adopted bad and uncoordinated policy, he wrote.

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Dimon, 56, defended a banking industry that has been besieged by new rules and public contempt after lax mortgage lending contributed to the worst economic slump since the Great Depression. He championed the use of derivatives and the right of banks to lobby lawmakers and hailed the US economy and corporations as engines of job growth.

“We have hundreds of rules, many of which are uncoordinated and inconsistent with each other,’’ Dimon said in the 38-page letter, his longest since becoming chief executive in December 2005. “Complexity and confusion should have been alleviated, not compounded.’’

Dimon called a cap on debit card transaction fees, a provision of the Dodd-Frank Act, “price-fixing by the government that will have the unfortunate consequence of leaving millions of Americans unbanked.’’ Stricter capital rules will make it “prohibitively more expensive’’ for banks to lend to consumers with subprime credit scores, about 40 percent of all Americans, he said.

“Jamie has taken on this mantle of defending this entire industry,’’ said Michael Driscoll, who worked for Dimon as a trader at the Smith Barney brokerage and is now visiting professor at Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y. “He’s combative by nature. And like a lot of these alpha dogs, when he’s backed into a corner, he’s going to bark back.’’

Still, Dimon said he agreed with the intent of most of the financial reforms passed by Congress. He said he supported giving regulators the authority to unwind failing firms and say on some executive compensation issues.

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“But the result of the financial reform has not been intelligent design,’’ he wrote. “Simplicity, clarity, and speed would be better for the system and better for the economy.’’

Dimon said big businesses tend to not get enough credit for creating jobs in the United States.

“We often read that small business is the primary driver of new jobs - this is both incorrect and overly simplistic,’’ he wrote. Large corporations generally are more stable and resilient in a recession and companies with more than 500 employees account for 51 percent of all jobs, he wrote.

Most of the “bad actors’’ responsible for the financial crisis are gone, Dimon said in the letter.

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