Monday, January 16, 2012

Keep It Simple

by Joe Nocera

New York Times

January 16, 2012

What if Jamie Dimon is right?

What if the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase is not just blowing smoke when he complains that the country — and, indeed, the world — has imposed so many new rules on the banking industry, some of them overlapping, others seeming to contradict each other, yet others whose sole purpose seems to be to weigh down the industry, that they threaten to do as much harm as good? Last summer, you’ll recall, Dimon confronted Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, at a conference and asked him: “Has anyone bothered to study the cumulative effect of these things?” Just last week, during JPMorgan’s earnings call with analysts, Dimon complained that Europe’s “regulatory policy, government policy, central bank policy — it’s not coordinated. It’s making the situation worse, not better.”

Like most nonbankers, I’ve tended to roll my eyes at Dimon’s continuous lamentations. Surely, given all the harm the banks did to the country, regulations aimed at preventing a repeat of the financial crisis struck me as being worth whatever cost they imposed on the industry. And, yes, I admit to a little schadenfreude as well. (To be fair to Dimon, he is not completely opposed to all the new regulations. He just comes across that way when he’s in rant mode.)

What has caught me up short recently is the emergence of a new critic of the banking regulations that have been pouring forth from Washington and Europe. Her name is Karen Petrou, and she is the managing partner of Federal Financial Analytics, a consulting firm that, among other things, analyzes bank regulations for clients.


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