JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon knew as soon as the words came out of his mouth that the joke about China could bring him into hot water.
“I was just in Hong Kong, I was joking that the Communist Party is celebrating its 100th anniversary. The same is JPMorgan. And I want to make sure we last longer,” he said at an event in Boston on Tuesday. : “I can not say that in China. They are probably listening anyway. “
Dimon, who was no stranger to boldness, also knew the bank would have to make a hasty retreat. Soon, members of the company’s government liaison team and China offices were convened to discuss the remarks and decide whether to acknowledge them or let them lie. About 18 hours later, when it became clear that the comments were attracting global attention, Dimon issued a statement of apology.
“Hundreds of individuals, companies and organizations have apologized for hurting the feelings of the Chinese Communist Party,” said Isaac Stone Fish, founder of Strategy Risks, which specializes in corporate relations with China. The way Dimon said he regrets his comment “is a smarter way to do it.”
Dimon’s remarks, made during a visit to the Boston College Chief Executives Club, follow a series of domestic and international trips, while JPMorgan’s CEO continues to herald a US economic boom that has also put him at the forefront of Wall Street’s return to office. . push. But his recent travel efforts have been somewhat problematic – the quarantine exemption he obtained for his visit to Hong Kong, a dispensation also granted to actress Nicole Kidman, garnered much local criticism.
Now he has to downplay his Boston comments – and this is not the first time. Dimon has a story with provocative remarks that he has been forced to go back. In 2018, he promised at a philanthropy event that he could beat Donald Trump in an election because he was smarter than the president, only to issue a statement hours later in which he said he should not have said so.
Dimon’s boasting and apology reminded another Wall Street CEO, whose company is a major JPMorgan shareholder, of Lloyd Blankfein’s joke many years ago that Goldman Sachs did “God’s work.” The attempts bank managers make to be witty get their own lives, said the director, who asked for anonymity to avoid associating his name with any clutter. Dimon is also likely to get through any fallout, as Blankfein did, but the distraction will be unwelcome, the director said.
Mea culpa underscores JPMorgan’s desire to maintain a cordial relationship in China, where it has nearly $ 20 billion ($ 27.8 billion) in exposure and has ambitions to expand further. Earlier this year, the bank won approval from Chinese regulators to fully own its Chinese investment firm and wants to maintain its good status in the country for further license applications, especially ahead of major party leadership changes expected next year.