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Heading into Jamie Dimon's testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Bloomberg View, Occupy the SEC and many others offered up the questions they would ask JPMorgan's chairman and CEO. But this was, after all, the Senate Banking Committee, whose members are no strangers to JPMorgan's campaign donations.
The Senators by and large met our low expectations, delivering performances that Brian Beutler said "turned the cross-examination into a coronation, and exposed the extent to which elected officials still feel compelled to genuflect to powerful financial interests". Dimon decidedly got the best of his questioners, so much so that David Weidner said he came "off too much like a know-it-all. His inner confidence and cockiness have come to the surface".
Senators Menendez and Merkley were the exceptions. Menendez reminded Dimon that his company's vaunted fortress balance sheet has a moat built by taxpayers. Dimon bristled when Merkley suggested JPMorgan had benefited from TARP, Federal Reserve borrowing and AIG's bailout. Dimon said that view was "factually wrong". (It's not.)
Neil Barofsky, the former TARP inspector-general, condensed the proceedings:
Shorter Dimon testimony: We could have a great financial system if you people would just shut up and let me design it.