There’s a joke going around Washington about the best strategy for the Wall Street CEOs when they face off with lawmakers this week: Stay calm and let Jamie Dimon take over.
Unlike the rest of the bank leaders testifying before the House Financial Services Committee, the JPMorgan Chase & Co. boss has been in the congressional hot seat many times before. And rival executives point out, he has a tendency to dominate the conversation anyway.
The April 10 hearing has consumed big banks’ lobbying and public relations operations for weeks. They’ve compiled thick briefing binders on issues like small business lending and minority hiring, readied responses to pointed questions about pay and inequality, and conducted so-called murder boards — practice sessions where chief executive officers are cross-examined by a team pretending to be hostile members of Congress.
But even with the extensive preparations, few predict that the executives will come out unscathed. An anti-Wall Street sentiment runs through the Democrats now in control of the financial services panel, particularly among a group of newly-elected progressives who are pulling the party to the left.
AOC Snub A case in point is New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She and her staff have refused to meet with the bank CEOs’ main trade group ahead of the hearing, according to people familiar with the matter.
“Bulletproof vests covered with fire-retardant suits may not protect the banks,’’ Jonice Gray Tucker, a partner at the Buckley law firm in Washington, warned a group of bankers at a conference last week. “It’s just a question, unfortunately, of how much scrutiny and how bad it is.’’
More important than who gets scorched, however, is whether Wednesday’s hearing turns out to be a preview of the intense political heat that Wall Street could face throughout the 2020 presidential campaign. With critics like Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders seeking the Democratic nomination, the industry fears months of bad publicity and calls for big banks to be broken up.
Banks have been eager for Washington to turn the page on the 2008 financial crisis and instead focus on more recent business scandals, including those involving Facebook Inc. and other technology giants. They’d like to set a fresh narrative that highlights their post-crisis guardrails and the trillions of dollars they pump into the economy.
Original Video Release: April 10,, 2019
Date We Published: March 11, 2022
Hosts: Bloomberg Quicktake: Now
Media Source: Bloomberg Quicktake: Now