By Catherine Revland
A few years ago, having heard the phrase “too big to jail” one too many times, I closed my account at the Chase Manhattan Bank on Hudson and West 12th. After completing the paperwork the bank officer asked me why. “Two words,” I replied: “Jamie Dimon.”
“Oh?” he enquired, amused.
“You know who he is, don’t you?” I asked, my ire rising. “He’s the crook who runs your bank.” I then opened an account at the Emigrant Savings Bank on Downing and Sixth. I also liked the name (unfortunately it changed to Apple Bank shortly thereafter) but it was a long walk, especially in bad weather. Nevertheless, that was a small price to pay for feeling good about giving Jamie Dimon the shaft. Besides, I knew I could count on having a backup bank just two blocks away for small favors that neighborhood banks have traditionally provided us locals, things like exchanging a hundred dollar bill for five twenties.
Or so I thought.
It was a brutal January day, and I had pneumonia. For two weeks I hadn’t ventured farther than the corner grocery, but my supply of cash had dwindled to a single hundred dollar bill. Feeling woozy, I bundled up and took a slow walk to Hudson Street. Chase had redecorated, and all the tellers were new. The only thing that was familiar was the long, long line. I was about to stagger toward the nearest chair to avoid passing out when it was finally my turn to approach the lone teller’s window. Presenting my C note, I asked for twenties. “I will need to see your Chase card,” he said. I told him I didn’t have one, and he informed me that, without a card, he couldn’t help me. “But just last month a teller in this bank broke a hundred for me.” “That’s our policy now,” he said. The man behind the desk concurred. Service was now for customers only. “Please,” I pleaded. “I have pneumonia and my bank is ten blocks away.” “That is regrettable,” he said, but exceptions could not be made. “This is a horrible, horrible bank!” I croaked pitifully on my way out. “May Jamie Dimon roast in hell!”
A few days later, I read in the Financial Times that my nemesis had received a $35 million annual raise. According to Phil Angelides, the chair of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, the big banks have paid a total of $36 billion in fines for their predatory lending practices, but not a single person has been indicted. “The immaculate corruption,” he called it—“no humans involved.” And no humanity, either. After bailing out Jamie Dimon and his friends with our tax money, how dare we ask him for small favors!
Call this a pathetic coping mechanism if you must, but in the tumbril of my fantasy world, Lord Dimon is the first big banker to ride to his just reward, and he is smirking no more.
1 thought on “The “Immaculate Corruption” on Hudson Street”
A few years ago, in order to amass a fund with which to pay huge fines, Jamie Dimon cut the common stock dividends to .05 a share. Many shareholders who depended on their dividends were left hanging in the wind. For coming up with this brilliant idea, Jamie gave himself a
$16 million dollar bonus, right out of the pockets of those shareholders.