One person who benefited handsomely from the rally off the 2009 bottom is JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon.
Recall that Dimon officially became a billionaire in 2015. As of June of that year, Dimon owned some 6.1 million shares of JPM, then valued at around $404 million based on a share price of $66.02. Those shares are now worth $86.70 each.
He bought 500,000 more shares on the February 11 of this year, effectively calling the bottom for risk assets. He paid $53.18 a piece.
FT said the following at the time:
Mr Dimon — who has never sold a single one of the common shares he has been granted during his career at JPMorgan — last bought a big block of shares in July 2012, shortly after the bank reported a $4.4bn hit to second-quarter earnings caused by a trading desk in London. That purchase was at prices between $34.01 and $34.46 — so totalled about $17m — and was offset by the sale of preferred shares with a value of $13.5m.
It’s against this backdrop that Dimon is out telling businesses to “share the wealth a little bit, OK?”
There was speculation about you going into this new administration as Treasury secretary.
I don’t think I’m suited to be secretary of the Treasury. I love what I do. I’m not ready to do something else. I think I add a lot of value to America just doing what I’m doing.
As recently as September, you thought it would be difficult for people on Wall Street to get into the new administration. Now, Donald Trump has tapped several Wall Street figures. What do you think they’re going to bring that’s different?
Obviously, I was dead wrong about that. But you had a complete upheaval. The Republicans are in charge, and they have not been anti-business the way you’ve seen the Democrats largely be anti-business for years. I think if you are going to be president, you should have the best people sitting around a table. I think it’s a mistake for the American public to constantly be told that if you work for an oil company or you work for a bank, that automatically makes you bad. I think a lot of these people are very qualified people who are patriots. They’re going to want to help the country. They’re not going to try to help their former company. These are people with deep knowledge that will hopefully do a great job.
I think it’s a reset moment for how businesses are going to be treated: 145 million people work in America; 125 million of them work for private enterprise; 20 million work for government—firemen, sanitation, police, teachers. We hold them in very high regard. But you know, if you didn’t have the 125 you couldn’t pay for the other 20. Business is a huge positive element in society. But for years it’s been beaten down as if we’re terrible people. So I think it’s a good reset.
Detroit is a perfect example where civil society, not-for-profits, government, business all work together to improve the lives of American citizens. If you can duplicate what they’ve done in Detroit around the country, you’re going to have a huge renaissance.
What is your diagnosis about what’s going on in this country, this economic angst, the anti-immigrant sentiment?
It’s not anti-immigration per se. America’s changing too much for that. The core of the frustration and anger were two things. First, middle-class incomes have really not grown for 15 years. Second, the difference between unskilled and skilled has been growing over time. The unskilled really have a hard time having what you would call a living wage.
There are solutions. Skills training, like they do here in Michigan. I would also greatly expand the earned income tax credit. We only do it for mothers with babies. We don’t do it for single men. So if you’re making $8, $9 an hour, the government will pay you $3 or $4 [as part of your tax refund]. Figure it as negative income tax. If I can give you a job at a living wage, it helps small businesses. It’s not necessarily good for big business, but it’s a wonderful thing to do for society.
I think fixing corporate taxes, immigration, trade, all done properly will have fast results in America. Unfortunately, a lot of people who talk about fixing those problems, their answer is beating up on business is going to make it better. It’s not.
Let’s talk about increasing minimum wage. You believe it’s vital to growth. We now have Andy Puzder as Trump’s nominee for labor secretary. He’s been one of the staunchest opponents of raising the minimum wage.
What he said is that the government should be very careful about raising its minimum wage too high. It should be a decision made at a local level because, you know, California and New York City can afford $15, but upstate New York can’t. What he’s saying is that he’s not against states raising it thoughtfully to help people. I’m in favor of that. I would not be in favor of the federal government doing it and imposing real hardships.
But the other thing is, if your business can afford it, raise it. Share the wealth a little bit, OK? I tell people at JPMorgan I’m more worried about the pay of our lower-paid people than our higher-paid people.
And raising minimum wage will help small business. If you’re a small business that needs wages at $10 an hour to get by and you can’t afford medical—I’m not saying you’re a bad person, but that’s how you survive—then this will really help you. You’ll be able to attract better people. They’ll be paid more. You’ll probably have less attrition. And it will allow you to maybe afford more benefits over time. Raising it is just a teeny piece of it.
This seems like as good a time as any (it being the holidays and all) to remind readers that this is a guy who in 2013 sent out customized Christmas cards depicting a rather opulent lifestyle…