Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, is considered the pre-eminent figure on Wall Street these days. The financial world continues to marvel over the investment bank's success in the midst of economic turmoil.
In "Last Man Standing," renowned journalist Duff McDonald examines Dimon's ascent: from joining Sandy Weill at American Express after graduating from Harvard Business School, to the building of Citigroup to becoming CEO of JPMorgan Chase at age 48.
Granted extensive access, McDonald spent hours interviewing Dimon as well as his family, friends and colleagues. What emerges from these reflections is a family man with an enviable work ethic who shuns office politics. In addition, industry captains, such as Weill and Warren Buffett, reveal their thoughts on Dimon's career.
After reading the excerpt below, head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.
On the morning of September 18, 2008, the phone rang in Jamie Dimon's office. It was Hank Paulson, the secretary of the treasury. For the second time in six months, Paulson had a pressing question for the chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase. Would Dimon be interested in acquiring the floundering investment bank Morgan Stanley -- at no cost whatsoever?
During one of the most tumultuous months in the history of the stock market -- stocks fell 27 percent between August 29 and October 10, 2008 -- the storied investment bank Lehman Brothers had already failed, the brokerage giant Merrill Lynch had been sold to Bank of America, and the insurance heavyweight AIG had received an emergency loan of $85 billion from the federal government. One of the only remaining questions was whether it would be Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs that fell next. The government was desperately seeking to stave off what could have been a wipeout of Wall Street. And here was Paulson, offering Dimon Morgan Stanley for the bargain basement price of $0 per share.
At the government's urging, Dimon had agreed to take over Bear Stearns for $2 a share in March 2008, in a whirlwind 48-hour deal. (The price was ultimately raised to $10.) The transaction had catapulted JPMorgan Chase to the forefront of the financial industry and established Dimon as the government's banker of last resort. "Some are coming to Washington for help," Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, later said. "Others are coming to Washington to help."
Considered in a historical light, a takeover of Morgan Stanley would have been much more profound than that of Bear Stearns. Dimon was already being compared to John Pierpont Morgan, the legendary banker who was his company's founder, and this deal would have meant a reassembling of the empire that had been forcibly dismantled during the Great Depression, when banks were barred from the securities trade. Dimon, in other words, would have been sitting atop the very same empire his firm's namesake had lorded over nearly a century before.