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Jamie Dimon: Next Treasury Secretary Won’t Be a Banker

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Dimon just bet the equivalent of a year's salary and bonus that the bears are wrong. Photograph by Stuart Isett—Fortune Global Forum

Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of the largest bank in the country, says he doesn’t have a shot at becoming the next Treasury Secretary, or even the one after that. Neither do any of his rivals.

In an interview with Bloomberg Markets, Dimon, CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM), said that it will likely be a decade before a banker gets nominated to a prominent role in Washington. The last Treasury Secretary to come from Wall Street was Henry Paulson, who had been the CEO of Goldman Sachs. But there has been some speculation that if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, her pick could come from Wall Street. Among those likely in the running are prominent investment banker Roger Altman of Evercore, and Blackstone’s Hamilton James, who was once a top banker at Credit Suisse and DLJ. Larry Fink, the CEO of money management firm Blackrock, is also rumored to be in the running.

In the past, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett has suggested that Dimon would make a great Treasury Secretary.

But recently, as Bernie Sanders has upped his rhetorical attacks against Wall Street, and Clinton’s perceived ties to it, Clinton has started to sound like she wouldn’t nominate a Wall Streeter either. “I think there are a lot more places where one can and should look for such a Treasury secretary,” Clinton said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Dimon said that, these days, he thought that having a Wall Street veteran as Treasury Secretary, or other top Washington post, is “just not politically feasible.” As a result, Dimon said he hasn’t thought much of whether he would want the job.

Dimon also said the negative sentiment toward bankers has also led to a drop in the number of regulators who have actual financial industry experience. But Dimon declined to say whether he believed that was a bad thing because he would “get in trouble.” He said, “There’s a general view in Washington now by many politicians that if you ever were on this side, you’re conflicted for being on that side.

Along with his comments about Washington, Dimon also said in the Bloomberg interview that he now regrets his bank’s acquisitions of Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual, which were made in the run up to and during the financial crisis. Dimon said the Bear acquisition ended up costing J.P. Morgan $20 billion, in large part because of fines, which Dimon said was way more than he and his team were expecting.

On China, Dimon said that he thought that technocrats had exacerbated the problems in the country’s equity market. “Trying to get it up and then knock it down, both were a mistake,” he said. But Dimon didn’t seem to think that the problems in China’s economy were likely to bring down its banks.

 

Dimon said he thought China’s biggest banks would continue to grow and succeed. In the past, Dimon has used the threat of the growing power of China’s banks as a reason why financial industry critics like Bernie Sanders are wrong to say that big U.S. banks should be broken up. Once again, Dimon said he thinks the growing influence of China’s banks could threatens U.S. banks. “I don’t think the American government would allow [a Chinese bank] to buy JPMorgan,” said Dimon. “But [a Chinese bank] will be able to buy a sizable big bank in the U.S. at some point.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that the Q&A with Dimon was published in Bloomberg Businessweek, in fact it was in Bloomberg Markets.