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Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon Singing A Oddly Similar Tune On Dodd-Frank

No need to kill the poor law, just rough it up a little.
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With apologies to Dostoevsky, if Dodd-Frank is dead, anything is permitted. Well, Dodd-Frank is not dead, and there's still plentyon Wall Street that's not permitted. But Donald Trump rode into D.C. promising to “dismantle” the financial reforms, and although his prospective Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin has stated his opposition to ditching the law in toto (see: Volcker rule), it's clear that the incoming administration will make regulatory rollback a priority.


That puts our friends Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein in an awkward spot. In the politically touchy post-crisis period, it became gauche for any big bank head to come out and say what he truly felt about Dodd-Frank, as when Dimon grumbled about the law's provisions being “idiotic” and “ridiculous” back in 2011. In more recent years, public relations has dictated a blander approach along the lines of Sure, we'll eat our vegetables.

But Trump's election has opened up new and exciting opportunities for banks hoping to shake off the yoke of capital buffers and liquidity requirements and the like. So Jamie and Lloyd have been taking a middle path, neither grabbing for every juicy morsel on the buffet table nor standing off to the side and pretending not to be hungry. They're taking a strategic approach. And they seem to have gotten the same memo.

Compare their statements during winter-coated interviews at Davos this week about Dodd-Frank's past and future. Here's Blankfein, courtesy of CNBC:

Regulation came on very heavily, especially in our industry. And the pendulum may have gone too far… I’m not sure the regulators would have drafted all the laws that drive their regulatory [approach].

Now compare Dimon's remarks to Bloomberg:

No one in their rational mind could say that everything that was done, and how it was done, was done right.

Dodd-Frank wasn't perfect, and even those charged with carrying it out would probably agree. So what's the solution, chuck it all? Blankfein:

That's not saying we want repeal of all regulation or repeal of Dodd-Frank or anything like this.


I’m not someone for wholesale throwing it out and all that.

Great! Looks like we're on the same page there (as is most of Wall Street). So if you're not for the Old Yeller treatment, what's next? Blankfein:

We want to take another sensible look at this stuff now that we have some experience in operating.

Can't argue with sensibility. How about you, Jamie?

It makes sense when you have legislation like that after a while to open it up, look at what worked, look what didn’t, recalibrate it, modify it, change it, to accomplish what you want to do.

It's not clear if they were working from the a photocopied set of talking points or just treading the same narrow path that any bulge-bracket CEO must at this point when asked to extemporize on the death of Dodd-Frank.


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Time was, Jamie Dimon was the most popular CEO on Wall Street and America's "Least Hated Banker," for reasons that included the fact that the man has soulful blue eyes, charisma out the ass, and was in charge of one of the banks that a) didn't go out of business during the financial crisis, like Lehman and Bear and b) supposedly didn't actually need the bailout money the government made it take (as JD has said previously), like Bank of America and Citigroup. The man, in the hearts of many and especially the adoring press, could do no wrong. Which is why it probably stung a lot that Lloyd Blankfein, a Wall Street CEO who also possesses more charm than a person would know what do do with, who was also in charge of a bank that neither went out of business during the financial crisis nor required the bailout money it was forced to take (according to GS), and who is also the owner of a pair of baby blues, though in his case ones that sparkle, could only do wrong. And while LB is not one to gloat at another's misfortune, especially that of a friend, he's obviously feeling pretty good about being living proof of the old saying, "only one Wall Street CEO's balls can be in a vise at a time," and right now it's JD's turn. Dimon did not attend the annual Robin Hood Foundation party [last night], but Blankfein was there, enjoying a rare night out of the spotlight. He shook hands, introduced his wife and, grinning broadly, posed for pictures. For months, Goldman Sachs has been portrayed as the callous Wall Street behemoth whose executives collected giant bonuses while America's housing crisis worsened and unemployment rose. But Monday night was different. "No one cares about Lloyd tonight. It is Jamie against the world, and that's got to feel good for Lloyd," another hedge fund manager said. And this is just the beginning. First, they stop calling you Satan and claiming you poisoned their food, next glowing profiles and cover stories devoting major column inches to your rippling biceps and the throngs of women you beat off with a stick. Dimon Pushes Blankfein Off Hot Seat At Charity Gala [Reuters] Robin Hood Scene: Blankfein, Soros, Rihanna [Bloomberg/Photo]