Are You Smarter Than a Congressman?

Jamie Dimon
Mark Wilson | Getty Images
Jamie Dimon

JPMorgan's CEO Jamie Dimon was back on Capitol Hill today answering questions about the bank's $2 billion loss.

As is often the case, the questions weren't always about the $2 billion loss.

"Do you think at the level of $180 million you can get smart regulation of the CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission)?" asked Congressman Barney Frank.

"I have never looked at their budget," Dimon replied. "It would be impossible for me to comment on it." Rep. Frank pushed back, before finally saying, "Well, once again, I'm disappointed."

Could you have asked better questions? Would you, dear reader, be more on target than Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, who asked if JP Morgan's losses could ever approach $1 TRILLION? "Not unless the Earth is hit by a moon," Dimon replied dryly.

I decided to ask regular folks for suggestions on what they would ask Dimon. For fun, I went to the last place you might expect an intelligent question about banking—the fringe of La-La land—the beach in Santa Monica. Don't let the wetsuits fool you.

"How much money does JPMorgan have in credit default swaps with Spain and Greece?" asked one shirtless man dripping from a morning swim in the Pacific.

"I would just ask him what he was thinking," said a surfer, whose friend added, "Two billion dollars. That's a lot of surfboards and a pretty good surf trip."

And then there was Jay Bid, catching some waves after graduating from Yale with an MBA. Bid has met Dimon, whom he considers a very smart guy. However, "These banks are getting so big and so complicated," he asks, "can any one chief executive know enough to manage them properly?"

Good question.

I also received great questions from CNBC viewers on Twitter. Many of them would still like to know exactly how one of the world's best banks made such a bad bet.

"What is the trade? Who is the counter party?" asks @a4ashu, "Are you still in it?"

"Was the risk worth the possible benefit?"--@dalewj

"What is 'proprietary trading'?"--@ActionJackson

"Mr. Dimon: How does JPM allocate campaign contributions to each member of Congress? Is there a formula?"--@DavidBCollum

"Ask Dimon why he's full of sh*t."--@ozbusurfer_real

"Mr. Dimon, is it true that Brian Moynihan sent flowers & thank you note after you took his place in 'Pin the tail on the Banker'?"--@Firebird326

And finally, a really good question:

"I'm still waiting for Corzine to explain what he did to New Jersey as well as MF (Global)"--@TodayTrader.

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