Here’s Jamie Dimon’s explanation for not taking a cut to his $31m salary

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon says that taking a pay cut would “offend” the board of the company.

That’s JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon offering up a reason why he should — in no way, shape, or form — accept a pay cut that would take him below his $31m salary.

Dimon’s answer came during an interview with Jim VandeHei on “Axios on HBO,” which aired on 3 October. VandeHei and Dimon had begun the interview by discussing the company’s commitment to racial equity — starting with opening bank branches in Black neighbourhoods to give residents access to mortgage specialists and wealth managers.

Behind this all was a big question for Dimon: “Why have we grown so slowly for the last 20-30 years, and why have the bottom 30% of income folks not gone anywhere for 20 or 30?”

Dimon’s list was interesting — infrastructure, taxation, regulation, health care litigation, affordable housing — but avoided one major thing: wages.

The slow growth in wages among America’s middle class has been the subject of many reports. In 2018, the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute reported that hourly wages for the lowest 10% of workers grew only 8.9% since 1979, while those for the top 10% — where Dimon and his board currently sit — nearly doubled.

While VandeHei didn’t point out the wage stagnation for those JPMorgan wants to help, he did bring up Dimon’s $31.5m salary last year, asking if that wage package was okay for someone making $20 per hour. Dimon’s response was that capitalism determines if it’s fair. “We have a free market in this country, which everyone should applaud,” Dimon said. “So every single person could work where they want.”

VandeHei hit back, asking: “Is it fair that you make 400 times what the average JPMorgan employee does?” VandeHei also pointed out that, as the CEO of Axios, he could recommend that he be paid less. That’s something that Dimon shot down, while pivoting away from himself.

“We have a lot of high-paid people. We pay people to do a great job. They could all sell their services elsewhere. I need to maintain the best team on the playing field, and I need to pay them fairly to do that. You may or may not like that, but that’s what it is.”

VandeHei didn’t follow up.

This article was published by Dow Jones Newswires

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