Will JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) Exec Jamie Dimon Be Treasury Secretary?
Tim Geithner is not expected to stay in his role at the US Treasury Department much longer, which leaves many market observers speculating who his replacement will be. If it’s up to Warren Buffet, the billionaire Omaha investor, he’d choose JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) Chief Executive Jamie Dimon.
Geithner has expressed a desire to leave the post after four years of service, following Barack Obama’s re-election. In a recent Bloomberg News interview, the Oracle of Omaha commented on Dimon’s potential role by saying “”If we did run into problems in markets, I think he would actually be the best person you could have in the job, as world leaders would have confidence in him.”
Speculation has mounted a number of high profile asset management names are in the running to take over the position, including Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, and Goldman Sachs veteran Gary Gensler. The treasury role has returned to finance executives in recent years. Geithner was Chairman of the New York Federal Reserve Bank before taking the role in the treasury, and Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) Exec Hank Paulson preceded him in the role. The days of appointing railroad executives (like John Snow) appear gone, as the treasury role continues to grow in an increasingly complex financial world. Speaking to CNBC in 2011 Dimon played down speculation he would one day become US treasury secretary, arguing he is not suited to politics.
Dimon has long been regarded as a smart and savvy financial executive. Once the heir apparent to the Citigroup kingdom he helped build with Sandy Weill, he ventured out onto his own following personality clashes, and rose to be CEO of JPMorgan. He guided the bank through the financial crisis, and was looked to as one of the few leaders who understood the gravity of the situation, and able to steer his firm through it. Dimon’s image has taken a hit in 2012, as the London Whale debacle has reflected poorly on him, even if he knew nothing about the trades at the time. Nonetheless, securing a confirmation for Dimon may prove challenging, given the fact that just a few months ago he was called into Congress to explain the events that led to the billions of losses incurred on the London trades. Once seen as a tarnish free executive, Dimon’s image has now come down to earth a bit – but remains a widely respected financial mind, capable of managing the treasury role.