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Dimon in the Rough

In testimony before the Senate Banking Committee today, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon used a softball question from Sen. DeMint to state his objections to the Dodd-Frank regulations:

What we set up is a system with more and more regulators, we don’t know actually know who has jurisdiction over many of the issues we are dealing with anymore…I would prefer a simple, clean, strong regulatory system, with real intelligent design, but that’s not what we did.

Well, who wouldn’t prefer such a system? The problem is that Dimon, as far as I know, hasn’t taken the trouble to explain what it might look like. A return to the Glass-Steagall separation between commercial and investment banking, perhaps? What about the Volcker Rule? Apparently not. In fact, Dimon took the opportunity later in his testimony to complain about the dangers of overly simplistic regulation, including ostensibly artificial distinction between different forms of trading (at 11:51) .

I make no claims to expertise on the technical issues involved here. But the obvious tension between the demands for simpler, more transparent regulation and focused attention on the minutiae of banking practices make it very difficult to take Dimon and his allies seriously when they say that they’re open to reform of the practices that led us to the brink of economic collapse. Pro-business types like to remind us that we shouldn’t rely blindly on the impartiality and competence of regulators. Shouldn’t we apply the same standards to bankers–especially when they’re playing with taxpayers’ money?

about the author

Samuel Goldman is an assistant professor of political science and director of the Loeb Institute for Religious Freedom at George Washington University. He earned a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard, where he has also taught writing. In addition to The American Conservative, Goldman’s work has appeared in The New Criterion, The Wall Street Journal, and Maximumrocknroll. Follow him on Twitter.

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