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On One of The Worst Days Of WhaleGate For Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s Vice-Chairman Thought It Would Make Him Feel Better To Hear From Another Guy Who’s Sort Of But Not Really Been ThereBy Bess Levin
As you may have heard, Summer 2012 was not the best of times for JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. On May 10, after having said that a Bloomberg story about one of its London traders making very large, very worrisome bets was but “a tempest in a teapot,” the bank announced that said trader had lost approximately $2 billion. On May 11, it was suggested that Dimon’s title of most-loved banker on Wall Street was up for grabs. On June 19, Dimon was forced to testify on Capitol Hill. On July 13, JPMorgan revised the $2 billion loss to $6 billion. Associates who surrounded Dimon during these days said that the stress was visibly wearing on him, and that it was arguably one of the worst periods of his career. And while senior executives logged long hours and gave up weekends and holidays to help deal with the fallout, gathering documents and unwinding trades and trying to manage the crisis, only one busted his ass to actually give Jamie Dimon what he needed: Jimmy Lee.
After spending much of July 13 again explaining the trading loss to the media and to research analysts—including making the stunning admission that the traders in London may have intentionally mismarked the trades to make them look less egregious, a potential illegality that the Justice Department is still investigating—the exhausted Dimon got an unexpected call from Tom Brady, the star quarterback of the New England Patriots. (Jimmy Lee, a legendary sports fan, had arranged for it.) Brady reminded Dimon that even Super Bowl champs have bad days and told him “to hang in there.” “I was surprised he even knew who I was, to tell you the truth,” Dimon says.
What’s particularly great about this anecdote, via Bethany McLean’s article in Vanity Fair, is that if you only saw it as a highlight somewhere else, you might have thought that Tom Brady had read about JPMorgan’s woes in the paper and was like, “I gotta give this guy a call.” That, in other words, he was being a self-important douche. When in reality, on the day JPMorgan had to tell the public it’d actually lost $6 billion, the vice-chairman of investment banking said to himself, “I’ve got to do something. How can I help Jamie? Think, Jimmy, THINK.”
And after thinking about it and thinking about it and thinking about it some more, snapped his finger and said, “I’ve got it- we need to get Tom Brady on the line.” And then gathered his five secretaries in his office and told them to clear his and their schedules because they needed to get this deal done by the end of the day. And when he finally got Brady on the line, assured him that the call would be welcome and that it wouldn’t be awkward* or seem out of left field. “Just tell him he’s got this. Tell him that if banking or football were easy everyone would be doing it. Tell him that even on your worst day, you still get to go home and bang that little Brazilian of yours. No, wait, scratch that. Tell him you can’t generate profits and be responsible for the losses at the same time. Tell him, ‘Keep your chin, up, kid.’ Tell him you’re down by 7, you just took a huge sack, Gronkowski’s got a broken leg and you’re not wearing a cup. But there’s still time left on that clock, Jamie D. And as long as there’s time left on that clock, you’re going to score a mother fucking touchdown. Tell him, ‘Go get ‘em, Tiger.’ Tom? You still there, pal?”
Jamie Dimon On The Line [VF]
*Which, based on the account, kind of sounds like it was? For both Dimon and Brady? How did the call end– “Well, just keep me posted on how everything turns out”?