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Monday, November 29, 2021

JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon apologises twice for Chinese Communist Party joke

Hours later Mr Dimon issued a statement saying: “I regret and should not have made that comment. I was trying to emphasise the strength and longevity of our company.”

Later on Wednesday he issued a second statement: “I truly regret my recent comment because it’s never right to joke about or denigrate any group of people, whether it’s a country, its leadership, or any part of a society and culture. Speaking in that way can take away from constructive and thoughtful dialogue in society, which is needed now more than ever.”

JP Morgan has an exposure of nearly $20bn in the world’s second-largest economy.

Mr Dimon’s remarks come a week after the banker was granted a rare exemption from Hong Kong’s ultra-strict quarantine rules, angering rival bank bosses who also want to visit the region.

International businesses keen to expand across Asia are also very careful not to upset China, which has a track record of punishing companies.

Swiss bank UBS lost a relationship with a Chinese bank and its role on a major bond deal with a state railway company in 2019 because one of its top economists made a comment about pork prices that was interpreted as a racist slur.   

JP Morgan sources said that there had not been any reaction from Beijing.

Like many major banks, JP Morgan has made clear that it wants to expand its presence in the world’s second-largest economy as wealth in the region swells. 

According to Goldman Sachs, more than $35 trillion in Chinese household savings will be allocated to products such as securities, mutual funds and wealth management products by 2030.

JP Morgan’s rivals said at the weekend that they felt frustrated Mr Dimon got “preferential” treatment for his 32-hour visit to Hong Kong last week as he was spared from tough quarantine rules. The region maintains a zero-case approach to Covid, with visitors facing hotel quarantine of up to three weeks.

Days after Dimon’s visit, David Solomon, the Goldman Sachs chief executive, said he did not expect to be able to visit Hong Kong or China for “quite some time” due to the restrictions.

Mr Dimon has run JP Morgan since 2005 and is the last boss left at a major US bank who was in post before the 2008 financial crisis.

The outspoken banker said in 2018 that he would be a better president than Donald Trump because he is smarter and just as tough.

“And by the way, this wealthy New Yorker actually earned his money. It wasn’t a gift from daddy,” he said. Mr Trump retaliated by tweeting that Mr Dimon lacked the “aptitude or ‘smarts’ & is a poor public speaker & nervous mess – otherwise he is wonderful”.

 In 2019 Mr Dimon also hit out at “greedy” and “selfish” bankers who have overpaid themselves since the financial crisis despite being awarded over $248m since the crash.

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