Jamie Dimon has the silver mane and piercing, gray-blue eyes of a chief executive officer from central casting, but he talks like one of his own charged-up traders. His blunt words tumble out in a New York hurry. Unlike other financial chieftains, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase (JPM) seems to relish using those words to berate the lawmakers and regulators that hold his bank’s fate in their hands. “Jamie has taken on this mantle of defending this entire industry,” Michael Driscoll, who worked for Dimon as a trader at the Smith Barney brokerage, told Bloomberg News earlier this year. “He’s combative by nature. And like a lot of these alpha dogs, when he’s backed into a corner, he’s going to bark back.”
Words like comeuppance, schadenfreude, and even Dimonfreude have been laid on liberally since May 10, when Dimon blamed a $2 billion trading loss in JPMorgan’s London office on a hedging strategy that he confessed was “flawed, complex, poorly reviewed, poorly executed, and poorly managed.” (Otherwise, fine.) On NBC’s Meet the Press, he said, “We know we were sloppy. We know we were stupid.” The loss has probably grown as hedge funds attack the bank’s exposed flank.
Anyone who thought Dimon might retreat—say, by giving an inch to regulators who want to tighten rules against risky proprietary trading—doesn’t know the man. On May 15, facing shareholders at JPMorgan’s annual meeting in Tampa, Dimon promised in his brisk style that “all corrective action will be taken.” He made no move, howe