tv The David Rubenstein Show Peer to Peer Conversations PBS October 29, 2017 6:00pm-6:31pm PDT
you've started out-- your father was a stockbroker. did you ever consider going into banking? i knew more what i didn't wanna do. i didn't wanna be a lawyer, didn't wanna be a doctor. david: you chose to go work for sandy weill. it was a hell of a run, and he fired me. [audience laughs] david: you've had a lot of jobs, i think you were offered the ceo of home depot. i look at business like i wear the damn jersey. i'm not a hired gun. david: think the country's better off for having dodd-frank? the system has completely recovered. part of that's dodd-frank. you would never consider running for office, would you? [audience laughs] woman: would you fix your tie, please? well, people wouldn't recognize me if my tie was fixed, but okay. just leave it this way. woman: and they-- all right. [♪] [david reading on-screen text]
david: i began to take on the life of being an interviewer, even though i have a day job of running a private equity firm. [david reading on-screen text] [inaudible dialogue] let's talk about your background a moment. you've started out-- your father was a stockbroker, and you started out with some background in this area, but did you ever consider going into banking? was that always what you wanted to do when you went to harvard? no. i-- i knew more what i didn't wanna do. i didn't wanna be a lawyer, didn't wanna be a doctor, i didn't want-- i wanted to be part of building something. and, you know, obviously i grew up around, you know, stockbrokers and wall street and stuff like that. my dad, who passed away recently, gave me-- you should all try this one day. get an annual report, rip out the part that has the price in it, analyze it, and say we pay for the stock. and you'd be immediately humbled. immediately. do it a couple of times and, uh... so i was always into the financial world,
but, you know, to me it's just building something and... so i went to business school, i didn't have to go to the financial world. but it was fascinating. everything you read in the paper matters, they're global. and you get involved in so many policy issues, so it was just a fun place to build, but i'd have had as much fun building something else. david: normally, if somebody's a baker scholar of harvard business school, they can pick any job they want. you could have gone to goldman sachs, a great firm. you chose to go work for sandy weill. why did you do that? jamie: sandy, he had a small broker-- brokerage that he sold to american express at the time. and, you know, he-- i found he's kind of down-to-earth. he had offered me to go to shearson, their investment bank, i said no. i had offers from goldman sachs, morgan stanley and lehman. i said, "i've learned a lot more at these other places than at shearson." eventually he called me up-- kind of like me, i was a baker scholar, which was important to him. and i said, "why don't you just come and be my assistant? you'll learn a lot." i don't know what's gonna happen. and so american express, you know, we-- he lasted there about three more years. so-- but you did learn a lot. david: so when he left, he was--
jamie: when he left, i left with him. i was offered a bunch of jobs to stay and stuff like that. he said: "we're gonna find something, build something great." so we took over this little company called commercial credit in baltimore here. my-- one of my babies was born in sinai hospital, and i moved down here, and we took this little company. it had a consumer finance thing. like, seven other little companies, including a leasing company in israel, a small international bank that made loans-- which all went bankrupt. --called less developed country loans. a property casualty company, small life insurance. and that company is the same company that became citi. and over those 12 years, we bought-- these names you'll recognize. primerica, smith barney, shearson, salomon brothers, aetna property-casualty, travelers life, travelers property casualty. and it was a conglomerate. they didn't-- we did a good job running them, we did a great job for shareholders, and merged it with citi. and... and so it was a hell of a run, and then he fired me. david: but-- and... david: so, what--? and-- when he did that,
a year later, i called him up and said, you know-- i called him. he didn't call me. just so you know. i said, "it's time to break bread." and we met at the four seasons restaurant and-- i wanted to do it privately. he said, "we'll meet at the four seasons." on the front page of the ft, "dimon, weill have lunch." and-- "with civil war in chechnya." i'm thinking, this is-- this is, like-- anyway, he was a little nervous, and i said: "hey, we're not gonna spend any time in the past. all i wanna say is you did the wrong thing for the company, i made a lot of mistakes too. and here's some of the mistakes i made." after i gave him the mistakes i made, he said: "thank you for sharing that with me." we had a very nice lunch. it's now quite clear he did the wrong thing for the company, and life goes on. david: so you then sa-- you were in a small office, i recall it-- is it the seagram building? yeah. you rented a small office there. after i got fired. after you were fired, you rented a small office. i came to see you. i was fired. i mean, this shows you how stupid corporate america gets
when you have-- the company had been set up that we had co-chairmen and co-ceo john reed and sandy weill, i was gonna be the president and run the global corporate investment bank, and other jobs. it-- because of turmoil among management, deals are very tough. we had tri-heads of the global corporate bank, co-heads of asset management, co-heads of consumer, and all the staff units, risk, finance and technology, are gonna report to me. instead, all the staff units reported to joint leaders sandy and john. when they did that, i said to him: "you guys are crazy. this will destroy the company. the second you do this, people are gonna be building trenches and stockpiling ammunition. and by the time you two guys figure it out, a lot of good people will have left the company." not realizing i'd be the first casualty, by the way. but they were so-- and they kept on saying, "it works for me." i kept saying, "it doesn't matter if it works for you. it matters if it works for the clients and the employees." "it works for me." and, you know, so when you hear a ceo say, "it works for me,"
you know, you should question their intelligence a little bit. it's not the way you should look at business. so it works for the client, ultimately. david: so when you were fired and you were looking for something to do, you had a lot of jobs. i think you were offered the ceo of home depot, or things like that. jamie: yeah. i was offered home depot and-- a couple of big international, you know, investment banks. not to run their parent company. run the investment bank. hank greenberg who ran aig said, "why don't you come over here?" all i could think of myself is, "to go from sandy weill to hank greenberg?" i mean, you'd have to have your head checked. [audience laughing] david: so-- a bunch of private equity folks. jeff bezos called me up, and i went to-- he was looking for a president. i love the guy. we've been friends ever since. i was thinking, "i would never have to wear a suit again. i'm gonna get one of those house boats in seattle, and... and i loved what he did. it just was beyond-- you know, i spent my whole life in financial services, so it's a little bit like playing tennis your whole life and then you go to play golf. so-- you know, i love the guys at home depot. i went down to have dinner with bernie marcus and arthur blank and ken langone.
and i said to them, "i have to confess to you guys. until you called me up, i had never been in a home depot." david: right. [audience laughing] only reason i went is because the guy who worked for me said: "jamie, you've gotta go to one before you go to that dinner." and-- and they didn't care. they said, "we want you, the person. we're not interested in what you know. we're looking for the heart, the mind, the spirit. we're not interested in what you know about merchants and stuff." couple of internet companies. a lot of them is on the money. "you'll make a billion dollars" type of thing, and-- so at bank one, i figured this is my chance, you know. how many major financial companies are there? thirty? how many have changed their ceo in their three- or five-year period? four, five? how many of those are gonna go outside? one? and it's probably gonna be a troubled one. so i said this is my commercial credit. it'll be what we make it, and i put a lot of my money into it. not because i thought the stock was cheap, because i thought that, you-- i'm the cap-- i don't-- i look at business like i wear the damn jersey. i'm not a hired gun, okay? i'm gonna bleed for the company and give it everything i've got
and hand it off to someone else. i don't like people who work at a company, act-- something like it's third party. it's not a third party to me. this is what i do. david: so when you went to bank one, though, did you ever expect you'd move back to new york? or you thought you were going to chicago and that was your career? jamie: i-- i had no idea. i love chicago, by the way. i love chi-- it's a great city, and-- i really didn't know. there was a great-- there's a cartoon of me sitting, you know, in-- at an airport, and the person saying to me, "mr. dimon, there are no scheduled flights to new york." and-- and in chicago, when i go to chicago, they didn't believe us-- "are you moving here? are your kids going to school here?" i said, "yes. i'm here. i'm really here. i'm staying here." and-- and i tell-- i used to tell them in chicago that if i die, if i stay my whole life and die in chicago and they ship my ashes back to new york, they would say, "we told you." [all laughing] you know, he-- so-- so when-- no, i-- i didn't know. i thought-- you know, i remember the banking-- was consolidating. it's still kind of consolidating. so i knew that if i did a good job,
i'd probably be part of that. but i didn't know whether i'll be an acquirer, building up a bigger regional bank, or be an acquired-- i mean, that's not up to me. it's also up to a board of directors. so to me that thing is make the company as good as you can and it actually creates all the opportunities you have. so you ultimately did a deal with jpmorgan. you came back, you became the ceo, and-- chairman and ceo. and let's talk about the great recession and the financial crisis that came about. your bank was in pretty good financial shape. you were called down to washington d.c. by hank paulson. he says, "i wanna give you $50 billion." you didn't really need it, why did you take it? you know, it was 25, but-- twenty-five. no, jpmorgan didn't need government help, okay. and one of the things that happened in this crisis that has destroyed banks is that all these banks were bailed out. they were not all ba-- some were. you could still be very angry at banks for helping screw up the system, which they did. not all equally, but th-- they weren't the only culprits-- you know, i think all-- if i came to washington, i'd say, "let's sit down one day like they do in the company,
let's actually analyze the facts and take blame for where it's due." including fannie mae, freddie mac. i go through mortgage rules, tons of re-- it wasn't just facts. and so... but most of us were trying to help to the extent we could. and so, you know, we bought bear stearns at the request of the government. they were trying to figure out what to do with tarp. remember, they already passed the tarp bill, ostensibly to buy bad assets. but they called us down, and i-- i think it was columbus day, hank said, you gotta "come down," i said, "i'm not coming." he said, "come down." i said, "i've been working six-- seven days a week for the last six months. i am taking this weekend off." he said, "it's important. everyone else is coming." so we go down, we were-- i think we were in the cash room or li-- there's nine of us lined up. alphabetical. i think it was alphabetical. either by name or by company. and hank is there and geithner and bernanke and sheila bair, and a bunch of others. and they said, "we've been thinking hard, and we've come up with a plan that we think can help save america. and this would take capital off the table
as being an issue for banks. if the nine of you take it, we think we can get hundreds of other banks to take it. and it'll be a major steppingstone to turn this thing around. and, you know, we-- and we calculated-- "yours is 25 billion, yours is 10 billion, yours--" it was cheap capital, by the way. it was 6 percent "preferred stock" that we had to give the government equity warrants, which they made a lot of money on. they said, "i know you have to talk to your boards." couple of people said, "i'll take it." david: yeah. [audience laughing] i said, "you don't have to talk to your board?" i called my board, explain it to them, i told them it was bad for-- to be honest, that it was asymmetric thing. it was going to save some companies, hurt others. okay? so you could argue it was bad for jpmorgan and good for other people, but i said, "it's good for the united states of america." they thought it through. we didn't have enough time to actually think all the ramifications. i had no idea it would be the great scarlet letter on the back of banks for probably-- for another generation. david: what would you advise to get the economy growing
at a better clip? jamie: yeah. so there are serious issues the country has, and they're not republican or democrat. they're not left or right. they're issues we kind of talk about, we know about. immigration i won't spend a lot of time on, schumer and mccain already had a fabulous bill, which will be passed. inner city school education is a disgrace. we should be ringing an alarm bell. over 50 percent of the kids in inner city schools do not graduate. and even those who do do not necessarily qualify to have a job. and schools and those who create jobs should work together to make sure that that certificate, whether it's high school, vocational. or community college, or college, ends up in a job. not just-- we cre-- that we have more tax reform. we're driving american capital and american businesses overseas every day. this inversion problem is also making it advantageous, believe it or not, for foreign companies to buy american companies, for foreign companies to invest here more than for america companies to buy america companies, for american companies to invest here. it's more complicated.
now, i also agree that you're not gonna have corporate tax reform without individual... and i would propose something like a greatly expanded earned income tax credit. we read a lot about infrastructure. the democrats are right. we need more infrastructure. you're talking about a hundred, $150 billion more a year, which is almost a drop in a bucket. and i'm talking about transportation, tunnels, bridges, roads, airports. the demo-- the republicans are right when they're afraid of just raising taxes to do more government spending. you know. and they just hear that great sucking sound to washington, bridges to nowhere, more crony capitalism. this is a perfect place to get the people in a room, ask the republicans: "how can we do this in a way that you approve it, that you know we're building bridges we actually need?" i believe if the president took care of all those things, like i said, they're not democrat or republican, the economy would be booming. i don't believe this argument that secular stagnation is permanent, savings glut. we'd be booming. we're not booming because of all of the issues that we've self-created, you know, and-- that have slowed down growth,
and it's time for them to do something to make their-- and by the way, wages-- growth will fix wage inequality. and studies show that cutting corporate taxes will help wage equality. make it better. so we should be very thoughtful about policy, that we get it right, and not just over-politicize. we really damage ourselves if we do that. now, you come to washington from time to time to meet regulators and legislators, and how-- what kind of experience is that for you? [audience laughing] i... you know, first of all, i think it's important that business get involved in washington. so i'm not a person who says you never go there. you know, policy is set here. there are a lot of people here who really do care about making it a better country. and if you don't get involved, that means it'll be set by other people. so it's necessary. regulatory environment for banks has been-- not just for us. i mean, i travel the united states of america and i go to people, you know, groups like this in any city. i mean, i get an earful about regulations completely unrelated to banks. i do think there's a serious issue about diminishing a little bit the regulatory burden on--
that we put on the economy. and-- but, you know, i come down, i do the best i can. it's my job, you know, to deal with regulators and politicians and policy issues. i also think when you come down as a business person, the interest of the country should be put before the interest of your industry or your company. so if businesses are constantly coming down asking for... [applause] ...you know, that one little thing that helps them. you know, like i hear these horror stories. do what's right for the country. your businesses are gonna be fine. your business will be better-off if the country's strong. you know, so business has to be a little careful to be able to-- it's too self-serving. you know, that does not appeal to the american public, it doesn't help politicians get things done, and-- that's what i'm saying, in earned income tax credit-- taxing your carried interest a little bit, those would be good things for america. [audience laughing] we should do that and help them at the lower end with education, income assist-- all those things we need but have corporate tax reform. david: the interview's over. [all laughing]
you can afford it, david. okay. okay. david: on the economy, you get data from all over the world that jpmorgan gets. wouldn't you say right now the u.s. economy is in reasonable shape? jamie: yeah. when we look at the economy-- you always look, where are the potholes? so we did see potholes in '07, in '08, in leverage and mortgage. there are no real potholes there, okay. but i'd give it the other around. america has the best hand ever dealt of any country on this planet today ever. okay. and americans don't fully appreciate what i'm about to say. we have peaceful, wonderful neighbors in canada and mexico. we've got the biggest military-- barriers ever built called the atlantic and the pacific. we have all the food, water and energy we will ever need. okay, we have the best military on the planet, and we will for as long as we have the best economy. and if you're a liberal, listen closely to me on that one, okay. the chinese would love to have our economy. we have the best universities on the planet. there are great ones elsewhere, but these are best. we still educate, you know, most of the kids
who start businesses around the world. we have a rule of law, which is exceptional. if you don't believe me-- talking about britain, brazil, russia, venezuela, argentina, china, india. believe me, it's not quite there. we have a magnificent work ethic. we have innovation from the core of our bones. you can ask anyone in this room, "what can you do to be more productive?" ask your assistants, factory floors, we do it. it's not just the steve jobs, it's the broad depth. we have the widest and deepest financial markets the world's ever seen. okay. and if you-- i just made a list of these things, and maybe i missed something, it's extraordinary. it's extraordinary. and we have it today. yes, we have problems. but, you know, when i hear people down-- and you travel around the world, i mean, get an airplane, travel around the world, go to other countries and tell me what you think. go to europe. you wanna tell about bad, you know, tough regulations and bad politics. you know, so we have it all, and we just need to fix the-- we have been shooting ourselves in the foot, in my opinion. we've been doing a pretty good job shooting ourselves in the foot.
[audience applauding] you would never consider running for office, would you? i would love to be president of the united states of america, okay. and until donald trump got to where he was, they said: "you'll never have a rich businessman who's never been in politics, be president." [audience laughing] and-- so i clearly was wrong about that. it's just too hard. you know what i mean? i think most people, you've to be senator, governor, run for your-- be part of a party. it's why michael bloomberg will be eminently qualified, didn't do it. it's why a lot of you probably haven't done it. i also think, by the way, this collaboration, what you hear today is this constant, you know-- "get the experts out of the room. we've heard that before." we need policy. thoughtful people. we need analytics. we need it done right, we need to do it together. a hundred and forty-five million people work in america. hundred and twenty-five million work for private enterprise. you-- the government can't fix all these things itself. when they act like government's the only solution, i remind them of the post office, of veteran affairs,
the department of motor vehicles. matter of fact, the only thing they do really well is the united states military. [audience applauding] and-- so-- collaboration works. and you go-- if you buy-- if you go around the country, it works in e-- all these cities, all the states. you know, to-- it's here. for some reason, we just get bogged down. it's just-- maybe just too complicated for mankind. david: so do you think the country's better off for having dodd-frank now or not? yeah. look, the banking system is far-- the banking system is in enormous strength, okay. jpmorgan in the-- we do the stress test. we're very much in favor of stress test. jpmorgan has 500 billion of capital today. that capital is enough to bear the stress losses of all 31 sifi banks. all of them. the whole banking system america's recovered, part of that is dodd-frank. dodd-frank, in reality, is thousands of things. i don't know anyone who'd agree with anything in dodd-frank. frank and i agreed that some things that were put in there
after the fact shouldn't have been put in. so i don't agree with all of it, but it is what it is. david: what about volcker--? unfortunately, because dodd-frank-- volcker was one of them. it was added kind of an after-the-fact thing. which is, in my opinion, completely unnecessary. it is what it is. i have to deal with it and that's the law of the land, and it's been interpreted. the other thing dodd-frank did is it really gives-- it's not a legislation that says x. it basically says make the system better, do what you have to do to do it. so the regulators have a huge amount of authority to interpret some of these rules and... so the system's better, dodd-frank is partially responsible, but dodd-frank, you know, was passed 100 percent democrats, zero percent republicans. and, you know, it-- none of us can possibly say: "you can't make things a little bit better." one day, rational people should sit down and say, "what parts work, what parts didn't work, which parts should be changed." i'm not in favor of throwing it out and starting from ground zero and-- a lot of good work was done, and there were a lot of flaws that need to be fixed. [crowd cheering] david: you were quoted before the brexit vote as saying that maybe you'd have to move people out of london. have you new thoughts on what to do?
what happened with brexit is kind of what we expected. you know, we never said it was gonna be a disaster. brexit is a vote for the unknown that we thought we have a-- would reduce the gdp of the uk. it's going to. so forget the little data that comes out. it's pretty much going to with foreign direct investment, people opening factories, construction pe-- it's not gonna-- it's not a disaster. we think a half of percent to 1 percent. that will reduce the gdp of europe a little bit. not a disaster, 0.3 percent. that's one thing we know. and the second is now we have this mountain of uncertainty. and it isn't going to go away because you're gonna be reading for the next year or two years about all the complexity. and we don't know the outcome. so i usually look at the best-case, worst-case, which i won't go through here. the best-case, it looks a lot like today, it's fine. i give that only 10 percent. they're not gonna get away with that because the eurozone's kind of angry, they wanna keep the eurozone together. and they're saying, "you're not gonna have free access to our markets without free movement of people." that's exactly why people in britain voted against it. for brexit. and they-- by the way, they-- while i wasn't for it,
there was a logic for it. their logic was why tether yourself to a sclerotic europe? you know, where brussels is passing rules that affect british citizens and-- that was true. so maybe the eurozone will look at this as an occasion to say: "let's fix the problems for everybody." all 27 nations, not just for britain, and then britain negotiates some favorable deal. what worries me the most about brexit is that it caused the eurozone itself to unravel. we have elections in france, in germany. so you don't even know who the leadership is, you have the same kind of populism surfacing over there that we have over here. it's tough. and if you see the eurozone unravel, that has potential catastrophic issues associated with it. it may be just a big recession, it could be worse than that. you know what that continent's been through for hundreds of years. and, you know, to me-- keeping the union together, would it be a better outcome? if they don't, that's-- we'll deal with that too, but a better outcome is they have a stronger union, not a weaker union. what about the banks in europe or in china? are you worried about the banks there?
the banks in europe are way behind america. by-- i'm saying it with sympathy to them. just like when i'm talking about our peaceful neighbors in the atlantic, the pacific. i remind people, china doesn't have food, water, energy. its neighbors in north korea, philippines, japan, pakistan, india, russia, indonesia-- tough part of the world, folks. and, you know, that changes people's mindset when it comes to managing your country, et cetera, and-- so europe is behind us. they-- they still haven't fixed their capital, their profitability. it's much more important to the financial system in europe than it is here. it's 70, 80 percent of financial system there. here, it's like 20 or 30 percent. but i think if i was running the european government, if i-- if you were a dictator, i would lay off of it at this point. let them do their jobs. i mean, pounding them eight years later is-- in my opinion, is causing europe to grow a lot slower, than it would otherwise grow. because these banks are unwinding constantly, loans and issues and credit. so i think-- i don't wanna see them hurt anymore.
i would like to see them get strong and in a healthy economy, if they need to add capital liquidity, do it then. in china, you know, the four big banks, several of them earn twice as much as we do now. so i tell american politicians, and i'm not saying it lightly, that is my competition too. they-- some of them earn $40 billion a year. they may very well have problems in their loan books, but they're ambitious. icbc bank is now in 60 countries. if you go back 30, 40 years ago, it was in one. chinese companies are going abroad, which, i think, is very smart. the chinese are quite smart dealing with their situation. their banks are banking abroad, they want their banks to be winners. they wanna have the jpmorgan chase of-- the next one. and-- and i don't want them to have it. i think we should have it. you know. and they could buy us one day. so, you know, we gotta be very careful when we talk about american business, what we want for american business, and how important it is for the success of america. and not just us. but i'd put-- a lot of these companies are in the same boat. you know, ge and caterpillar and-- and we gotta compete. and we gotta compete.
with some very large, tough competitors. globally. so you've been now running a bank for-- ceo, bank one and jpmorgan, for about 16 years. so, what's the greatest pleasure of doing this, running a bank? this is my contribution to making it a better world, is running a good jpmorgan chase. i tell people if i don't do a good job at jpmorgan chase, i hurt the opportunities for our people, i hurt the opportunities for the 2000 hamlets we do business in. we can't be philanthropic, we can't help people grow. and if i do a good job, we can do all those things. you know, i'm not a-- i'm not an artist, i'm not a tennis player, i'm not a musician, i'm not a politician. this is my contribution. jamie, i assume your shareholders will be happy for you to stay forever, but do you have any plans about how long you might stay in this position? i love what i do and i still have the energy to do it. it does take a lot of energy... david: your health is good? jamie: my health is good, thank you. and, uh... so i'm-- as long as the board's happy with me. i always say five years. i'll be 65. and i do think there's a time when the right person is ready, that i should leave. maybe the board will ask me be chairman
for a year or two or something like that, and-- i'll have an afterlife. like you, i'm never gonna stop working. i'll go on a board, i'll teach. i'll-- i'll maybe do something to help the government somewhere. i mean, i'll be fully engaged in business and stuff like that, but-- and also try to make it a better country, and-- my wife is deeply involved and philanthropic to help-- she does inner-city schools in the south bronx. try to get those kids jobs. jobs, jobs, jobs. and she's doing a great job of that. so i'll probably help her a little bit. things like that. [♪] ♪ be more pbs find more ways to explore at pbs.org slash anywhere