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Morgan Chase CEO touted as Geithner's replacement
Jamie Dimon Seen as Good Fit for Treasury
By Mark DeCambre
New York Post
Monday, November 23, 2009
As support for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner wanes on Capitol Hill amid frustration with the Obama administration's handling of the economy, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is emerging as a potential replacement.
Sources tell The Post that a number of policy makers have begun mentioning Dimon as a successor to Geithner, whose standing in Washington has suffered because of the country's high unemployment rate, the weakness of the dollar, the slow pace of the recovery, and the government's mounting deficit.
Last week, Geithner faced a withering attack from some Republican members of the Joint Economic Committee, getting into a testy exchange with one congressman who at one point asked Geithner if he would step down.
Dimon, meanwhile, has achieved rock star status during the financial crisis, having navigated JPMorgan through the recession and being a go-to guy when Uncle Sam last year needed Wall Street's help during the collapses of Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual.
Furthermore, while many bank chiefs are facing heat over outsize bonuses, Dimon has repeatedly made clear he won't write fat checks to attract or keep talent.
People familiar with Dimon's thinking said he "would love to serve his country," and in recent weeks Dimon has had a noticeably higher profile in Washington, making frequent visits to government officials and earlier this month publishing an op-ed in the Washington Post that makes the case for letting large institutions that take big risks collapse rather than receive government aid.
"It is critical to the standing of the United States in the global financial economy to have a Treasury secretary who has the full support of the president and Congress; a person who has earned respect on their own as a result of hard-won battles in finance to represent this nation," said Dick Bove, a banking industry analyst at Rochdale Securities who this week will publish a report on Dimon. "That is not Timothy Geithner. It is Jamie Dimon."
The timing might be right for Dimon to pursue the Treasury post. He recently put into place a succession plan, and JPMorgan is currently considered one of the strongest banks in the country, even though it, too, faces a threat of sizable consumer-loan losses.
However, sources said Dimon also has tried to tamp down enthusiasm for his replacing Geithner, whom the JPMorgan boss continues to support and thinks is doing "a good job," according to sources.
He doesn't want to be perceived as gunning for Geithner's job and is said to be keenly aware of the anti-Wall Street sentiment gripping the country. He has told people he plans to stay at JPMorgan for another "six or seven years," according to one source
A JPMorgan spokesman declined to comment.
Dimon has long been a big Democratic supporter, and his ties with Obama go back to when he ran Chicago-based Bank One. In addition, White House visitor logs show Dimon has been a repeated guest there. He also was a point man during the previous administration, rescuing Bear and WaMu.
This isn't the first time Dimon's name has been floated for Treasury secretary. He was considered a candidate last year and is still viewed as an executive who could be instrumental as Washington looks to overhaul the financial regulatory infrastructure.
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