September 25, 2022
Jamie Dimon, the bank’s CEO questions lawmakers about inflation

In what has become an annual ritual, CEOs of major US banks appeared before Congress on Wednesday to sell themselves as shepherds of an ancillary industry in a time of financial and economic crisis for many Americans.

Democrats called JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup to Washington to talk about pocketbook issues as households have the highest inflation since the early 1980s and midterm elections are just weeks away.

“While COVID is behind us, the economic challenges we face now are no less difficult,” Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser said in remarks prepared for the hearing. The hearing broke just before the Federal Reserve announced a 3/4-point hike in its benchmark interest rate as the central bank tries to control inflation.

Billed as a hearing on everyday finances, the CEO faced political questions with Washington in the middle of an election year.

A hot button issue has been the issue of gun store sales. Earlier this month the major payment networks — Visa, MasterCard and American Express — said they would begin classifying gun store sales as a separate merchant code. It’s a decision gun control advocates have pushed potentially to help capture the surge in gun sales ahead of mass shootings.

Jamie Dimon on Wednesday.
“The work we do at JPMorgan Chase matters in good times, and especially in tough times,” Jamie Dimon said in his inaugural address.
Getty Images

R-Texas representative Roger Williams stressed to the bank’s CEOs whether they would comply with the payments network’s decision. In response, all six CEOs said they would not stop legal gun sales and protect consumers’ privacy.

“We don’t want to tell Americans what to do with their money,” said JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.

The hearing took place before the House Committee on Financial Services. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, which focus on investment banking, are not testifying this time. Instead, three new bank CEOs have been brought in: US Bank’s Andy Cesare, PNC Financial’s William Demchak and Truist’s Bill Rogers Jr.

Each of them runs “super regionals” – banks that are vast in their own right, with thousands of branches and assets of hundreds of billions, but dwarfed in size by JPMorgan, BofA, Citi and Wells.

The Wall Street CEO talks about the current difficulties in the US and the global economy. Along with Fraser, JPMorgan CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon gave a deeper than usual approach.

Dimon said Americans are currently being “crushed” by inflation.

Dimon on Wednesday.
Billed as a hearing on everyday finances, the CEO faced political questions with Washington in the middle of an election year.
Getty Images

Many Americans still remember bailing out the banking industry about 15 years ago, so even the CEO used the platform to sell himself as a force to be reckoned with.

“The work we do at JPMorgan Chase matters in good times, and especially in tough times,” Dimon said in his inaugural address. “We finance the ambitions of Americans with loans for homes, autos, and grow a small business, and provide valuable products and services to more than half of American households.”

To avoid the political headache that comes with being labeled as part of “Wall Street”, super regionalists used this hearing to sell themselves as a competitive “Main Street” alternative to Wall Street megabanks. Is.

“We are one-sixth the size of some banks on this panel,” said PNC’s Demchak.

A series of mergers have brought increased scrutiny for Super Regional. US Bank is currently in the process of buying MUFG Union Bank, the US consumer banking arm of the Japanese banking giant. Truist resulted from the merger of SunTrust and BB&T, and PNC purchased the consumer banking franchise of Spanish bank BBVA.

“We are a responsible provider that works for American consumers and the economy as a whole,” Cesare of US Bank said in his prepared remarks.

The head of Wells Fargo usually faces tough questions from lawmakers because of various scandals in which the bank was fined billions of dollars and forced to operate under the supervision of the Federal Reserve.

Wells CEO Charles Scharf said the bank has taken several steps to improve its culture. But committee chair Maxine Waters, D-Cal., was skeptical, noting recent reports about the bank conducting fake job interviews for women and financial regulators imposing additional fines on her.

The CEO will return Thursday to testify before the Senate Banking Committee.

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