"Are you crazy?" Marvin C. Schwartz, a managing director at Neuberger Berman and a longtime investor in JPMorgan, asked me when I mentioned the possibility of ousting Mr. Dimon. "Jamie Dimon is one of the best C.E.O.s of any company in the world," he said. "It doesn't mean you can't have an accident. It's totally unfair to say he inflicted this upon himself."
Daniel Loeb, the activist investor who has made a career out of targeting troubled companies and ousting their chief executives, also sided with Mr. Dimon. "In my experience, they are meticulously ethical, and nobody has a more rigorous compliance effort." He added, "It's a very large and complex company, and things will happen." But he said that Mr. Dimon was now "being used as a scapegoat and piñata to satisfy some kind of bloodlust."
Laban P. Jackson, the head of the audit committee of JPMorgan's board, said at a conference last week, "He's the best manager I've ever seen, and I'm old." (Mr. Jackson is 71.) Mr. Jackson acknowledged that Mr. Dimon "has, as we all do, flaws," but added, "People get to smoking their own dope."
At an event earlier in the week, Mr. Jackson went so far, somewhat surprisingly, as to accept responsibility for some of the firm's problems. "We've got these things that we actually are guilty of, and we've got to fix them," he said. Then he blurted out, "I don't know what else we could have done, because we're not allowed to shoot people."
Mr. Dimon, however, was not on his list of those to shoot.
So what is Jamie Dimon's supposed firing offense?
(Read more: JPMorgan wants out of dicey lending to salve reputation)
JPMorgan's legal troubles stem from a series of problems: the multibillion-dollar trading loss from what's become known as the London Whale, the sale of flawed mortgage-backed securities without fully warning investors of the risks, accusations it manipulated energy markets in California and Michigan and a continuing inquiry into the bank's hiring of the sons and daughters of political leaders in China.
The largest problem from the perspective of fines is the mortgage-backed securities, which could cost the bank $11 billion or more. But many problems stemmed not from bad behavior at JPMorgan but at Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual, two firms that the government encouraged JPMorgan to acquire in 2008 to help avert a market panic.
In a footnote in a document that JPMorgan released on Friday, the bank estimated that more than 80 percent of the mortgage-backed securities involved in the legal losses were from those acquisitions. Without those acquisitions, JPMorgan would probably have been looking at a fine of $2.2 billion, or perhaps less, since the government has sought an extra-large punitive penalty given the magnitude of the problems.