OH NO HE DI’INT
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As you may have noticed, Jamie Dimon has had some unwanted attention thrown his way over the last several weeks, on account of one of his employees losing a few billion dollars. Though the JPMorgan CEO has been dealing with public displays of hate previously reserved for Lloyd Blankfein and Goldman Sachs, and will certainly be on the receiving end of a lot more tomorrow when he testifies on Capitol Hill, he has had a few people come to his (and his bank’s) defense. Yesterday Stephen Schwarzman told Bloomberg to lay off JD and JPM, noting that “occasional losses are inevitable” and “publicly excoriating JPMorgan serves no purpose except to reduce people’s confidence in the financial system,” while former Goldman exec Bill Archer said the whale fail makes him just “kind of shrug.” Lee Bollinger, who is President of Columbia and chairman of the Federal Bank of New York’s board of directors told the Journal that Dimon shouldn’t step down from his post as a director, as some have requested, and that those who cite conflicts of interest have a “false understanding of how [the Fed] works.” Some individuals from the Columbia community read Bollinger’s comment and, spoiler alert, are not happy. Enter, a strongly worded letter.
Mr. Lee Bollinger
President of Columbia University
Office of the President
202 Low Library
535 West 116th Street, Mail Code 4309
New York, NY 10027
Dear President Bollinger,
As faculty, alumni and students of Columbia University, we are writing to express our deep disappointment in your recent decision to support JPMorgan Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon’s continued membership on the Board of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.
As the Chairman of the Board of the New York Fed, your unambiguous duty – as stated by the Guide to Conduct – is to maintain “the integrity, dignity, and reputation of the Federal Reserve System . . . and to avoid actions that might impair the effectiveness of System operations or in any way tend to discredit the System.”
By supporting Mr. Dimon’s tenure you abdicated this basic responsibility. By echoing Mr. Ben Bernanke’s remarks that it is up to Congress to address this problem, you denied your duty to ensure the integrity of the Fed. By stating that Congress has more pressing issues to address than this one, you, in essence, urged inaction by all parties capable of affecting this important change. Surely you understand that a functioning financial system is a pre-requisite of our country’s economic recovery. By characterizing those who wish to see Mr. Dimon resign as “foolish” and in possession of a “false understanding” of how the Fed works, you have added insult – and inaccuracy – to the injury of encouraging this institution to continue in its current form.
It is worth reminding you that JPMorgan Chase is currently under investigation for its recent $3 billion trading loss – a loss Mr. Dimon initially denied and then characterized as a ‘tempest in a teapot.’ It may also bear repeating that Mr. Dimon has long campaigned aggressively against important regulatory reforms designed to prevent excessive risk taking by Too Big To Fail institutions – institutions the Federal Reserve saved with $3 trillion dollars in special lending facilities and which Congress bailed out with $700 billion of taxpayers’ money. Certainly Mr. Dimon has no place as a leader of this institution.
We urge you to reverse your support for Mr. Dimon and call for his immediate resignation. By way of reminder, there is precedent for this kind of action. In April 2011, Jeffrey R. Immelt, CEO of General Electric, stepped down from the NY Fed after it was clear that GE Capital would be regulated by the Fed as a ‘systematically important’ financial institution. As one of the largest banks in the world, JP Morgan is similarly – if not more ‘systemically important.’
As an educator, you have a special responsibility to demonstrate moral and intellectual credibility, something you have failed to do in this situation. As the president of a university, you have a responsibility to ensure that students have the best possible opportunities upon graduation. Surely you understand the connection between the unemployment crisis facing young people in America and the 2008 financial collapse. That collapse not only threatened the employment potential of millions of American students, but also risked the fiscal health of the parents and grandparents who co-signed their educational loans. That you would choose to uphold the interests of major financial institutions over students and their families is unimaginable. We certainly hope that the contributions made to Columbia by JPMorgan – sums north of $500,000 – had nothing to do with your decision.
Three years after the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, the country is struggling to rebuild its economy. A stable and appropriately governed financial system is a critical pre-requisite of our recovery. As the Chairman of the NY Fed, we urge you to take the obvious step of demanding Mr. Dimon’s resignation.
Current Students, Alumni and Faculty of Columbia University
Graduate Student and Alumnus
Professor of Economics
President of the National Housing Institute Charles H. Revson Fellow, 2004
Asst. Clinical Professor of Medical Psychology in Psychiatry
Alumnus and Adjunct Faculty
CC Class of ’09
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Class of 2012
Alumnae -GS of Arch & HP
William D. Hartung
Center for International Policy
Columbia College Class of 1978
Faculty, Medical School
Columbia College, ‘95
Adjunct Faculty and Alumni
Union Theological Seminary
Professor of Clinical Psychiatry,
Alumnus College ’76, GSAS ’78, P&S ’82
School of the Arts Alumni
Professor of Philosophy
Columbia College Class of 1991
Class of 2016
National Domestic Workers Alliance
Columbia College 1980
Alumnus Class of 2012 & SIPA student Class of 2014
BC Alumnus, Class of 2011
Eric J. Schoenberg
Adjunct Associate Professor
Columbia Business School
The Honorable David Segal
Former RI state representative
Founder and Principal, ASO Communications, Columbia College ’99
Current student of Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, Class of 2013
Denise J. Tartaglia
Co-Founder, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Columbia University alumni, SOA ’07
Thomas J. Yager
Associate Research Scientist, Mailman School of Public Health
As you may have heard, earlier this afternoon, Facebook priced its initial public offering at $38/share, valuing co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s stake at approximately $2.9 billion. Since Saverin conveniently renounced his US citizenship last week, he will avoid paying millions in capital gains taxes and hang on to an estimated $67-$100 million that would have otherwise gone to the government, news that did not sit right with Chuck Schumer. Did the Senator from New York call the guy a “piece of shit miscreant“? No. Did he send him an email that included the line, “fuck with me and you will have a huge asshole“? No. But Schumer was inspired to create draft legislation aimed at tax-dodging ex-pats like Saverin and to let the kid know he makes him sick.
Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Bob Casey (Pa.), who called Saverin’s decision “despicable,” said the Facebook co-founder stands to save $67 to $100 million in taxes by renouncing his citizenship. “Senator Casey and I have a status update for him: pay your taxes in full,” Schumer said at a press conference on Capitol Hill. Their so-called “Ex-PATRIOT Act” would impose a mandatory 30 percent tax on American investments for those who renounce their citizenship and would also prohibit individuals like Saverin from re-entering the country. The law — which only applies to individuals with a net worth of over $2 million or an average income tax liability of at least $148,000 — would not apply to non-American investments by former citizens. Under the proposed legislation, the IRS would decide soon after an individual relinquishes his or her citizenship if the renouncement was motivated by tax avoidance. The individual would then have the opportunity to provide reasons for the renouncement, but there would be a “strong presumption” the move was for tax purposes. “Mr. Saverin has decided to ‘defriend’ the United States of America just to avoid paying his taxes,” Schumer said, showing his familiarity with Facebook’s lingo.
Earlier this week, a man named Greg Smith resigned from Goldman Sachs. Smith informed his bosses of his decision to quit around 6:40 AM local (London) time and, a few hours later, circled in the rest of the world with an Op-Ed in the New York Times, which he penned not out of a desire to violate his (former) employer in the most gruesome fashion possible in front of clients and other interested parties but because he believed it to be the right, nay the only thing to do. In the piece, Greg explain that his decision to leave the firm after 12 years of service did not come easily but that he had to do it, realizing one day during rehearsals for the recruiting video he starred in that the lines he was delivering re: Goldman being a great place to work were a lie. A bald-faced one, in fact. Goldman had changed in the years since the Greg-ster arrived, and whereas it once felt like home and the people in it family, he’d come to regard it as a den of evil, run by monsters. Monsters who called clients “muppets”; who only cared about making money; who valued “shortcuts” over “achievement.” Of the latter, Greg spoke from plenty of experience. Though his personal achievements are too numerous to mention in full, they include being named a Rhodes scholar (finalist), learning to tie his shoes at the age of 22, winning third place for ping pong at the Maccabiah Games, and being named captain of the South American national table tennis team. OR WAS HE?
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