As JPMorgan Releases Earnings, All Eyes on Dimon

The bank and its candid CEO report better-than-expected earnings.

ByABC News
April 15, 2009, 8:43 PM

April 16, 2009— -- JPMorgan Chase this morning revealed better-than-expected earnings of $2.1 billion and, in a conference call with analysts, CEO Jamie Dimon stayed true to his pull-no-punches reputation, reiterating his disdain for the federal assistance he's said his bank was forced to take last year as the government sought to shore up the country's ailing banking system and JPMorgan's competitors.

The government's $25 billion investment of taxpayer funds into bank titan JPMorgan has been a "scarlet letter" and no bank competitor "should be able to pay it back faster than we do," Dimon said.

"We can pay it back tomorrow. We have the money," he said, adding that the bank was awaiting government guidance on when to repay the funds.

Dimon also announced that JPMorgan would not participate in the Treasury Department's Public Private Investment Partnership, which was designed to relieve banks of their troubled assets.

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The Treasury program, he said, "could be helpful in general to the system," but it's "basically irrelevant to JPMorgan Chase."

"We manage and control our own assets -- if we want to sell them, we'll sell them," Dimon said.

The bank's balance sheet, Dimon said, is "a fortress."

As JPMorgan has continued to maneuver around some of the worst of the financial crisis, all eyes have been on Dimon, the bank's straight-shooting, fast-talking CEO.

Dimon's eyes, meanwhile, have often been focused on a folded piece of paper he keeps handy in his pocket, a note the 52-year-old has sometimes called "the stuff people owe me" list.

Plenty of people owe Dimon a lot: Under his tenure, JPMorgan has gone from being simply known as a powerful global bank to becoming one of the most-heralded survivors of this recession.

Dimon's ability to avoid much -- albeit not all -- of the financial sinkholes that swallowed others, left JPMorgan strong enough to purchase two failing banking giants: investment house Bear Stearns and commercial bank Washington Mutual.