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122 Minutes With Jamie Dimon

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He takes a breath. “The whole world has become crazy. Businesses get attacked every time they do something.”

He’s being hyperbolic, but at the same time, the sense of menace is very real. Over the past several years, Dimon has received numerous death threats, and I was told when setting up this interview that it couldn’t occur outside the office for security reasons. (The need for bodyguards appears to offend his masculinity as well as his sense of justice.)

“Everyone is talking about the culture, the culture, and all that, and it’s just not true,” Dimon says. “Most bankers are decent, honorable people. We’re wrapped up in all this crap right now. We made a mistake. We’re sorry. It doesn’t detract from all the good things we’ve done. I am not responsible for the financial crisis,” he adds. “I hate to tell you. We were a port of safety in the storm. I find it unbelievable that that is the general theme—that you have to walk in a room and act like you are responsible for things you are not responsible for.”

He’s staring into the middle distance as he says all of this, as if addressing an invisible, unpersuadable audience. But when I ask if this episode has made him regret being such an outspoken defender of the banking industry, he looks at me point blank. “I’m an outspoken defender of the truth,” he corrects me. “Everyone is afraid of retaliation and retribution. We recently had an event with a hundred small bankers here, and 85 percent of them said they can’t challenge the regulation because of the potential retribution. That’s a terrible thing. Okay? This is not the Soviet Union. This is the United States of America. That’s what I remember. Guess what,” he says, almost shouting now. “It’s a free. Fucking. Country.

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