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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Jamie Dimon eager to pay back TARP funds

JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is eager to pay back "scarlet letter" TARP funds, saying that his firm has the cash to pay back the government tomorrow.

Bloomberg has the story:

"JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon, who today reported first-quarter profit that beat analysts’ expectations, said his firm could repay U.S. government rescue funds “tomorrow.”

Dimon, calling money received through the Troubled Asset Relief Program “a scarlet letter” and “the TARP baby,” said on a conference call today that the New York-based bank is awaiting guidance from the U.S. Treasury Department. “We could pay it back tomorrow,” he said.

The 53-year-old CEO took $25 billion in U.S. government rescue funds last year. He’s fared better than most of his rivals in guiding the company through the financial crisis, taking $33.3 billion in writedowns, losses and credit provisions through the fourth quarter. That compares with $88.3 billion at New York-based Citigroup Inc. and $55.9 billion at Merrill Lynch & Co., now part of Bank of America Corp., the biggest U.S. bank..."

You'll remember that JPMorgan Chase & Co. was strong-armed into accepting the rescue funds last year as part of the Treasury's "voluntary" bank plan, in which nine major banks accepted government funds (whether they needed the money or not, in order to avoid "stigmatizing" truly needy banks) in exchange for newly-issued ownership stakes in said banks.

Dimon also said that JPMorgan Chase will not be participating in the Treasury's Public-Private Investment Partnership (PPIP), saying "we learned our lesson" on borrowing from the government.

This puts Dimon and JPMorgan Chase in league with hedge fund giant Bridgewater Associates and its chairman, Ray Dalio, who have also declined to participate in the PPIP.