Despite being the star of the Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A 2.63%) (BRK.B 2.82%) annual meeting in Omaha this past weekend, Warren Buffett nevertheless took the time to give Jamie Dimon, the beleaguered CEO of JPMorgan Chase (JPM 4.68%), a much-needed show of support. On the eve of the much-anticipated corporate gala, he told Bloomberg Television that he was "100 percent" in Dimon's corner.
Buffett is a true big-bank booster, publicly proclaiming how healthy they have become, and even applying his personal guarantee as to their safety. His affection for Wells Fargo (WFC 4.71%) is legendary, and he recently confided to CNBC that buying more of the mortgage giant's stock is pretty much a monthly occurrence at his company.
He has also famously put his money where his mouth is, investing $5 billion in Goldman Sachs(GS 5.25%) and Bank of America (BAC 4.15%) when times were tough, and those banks were in need of both a cash and moral boost. In yet another glowing endorsement of Dimon on Monday, Buffett also noted that he personally invests in JPMorgan, though not through Berkshire Hathaway.
Dimon can use all the praise he can get
The past few weeks have been rough for JPMorgan's top man. Early last week, a key executive fled the bank, bringing the number of defections over the past year and a half up to nine. In addition, the bank is still reeling from the effects of the trading snafu that ultimately cost JPMorgan $6 billion last spring -- triggering a proxy vote to split the chair and CEO roles, something a stockholder advisory group is endorsing.
That's not all. The bank's reputation has also been dinged by the news that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is planning to censure JPMorgan for failure to notice all the monkey business going on during the time Bernie Madoff used the bank as his primary financial institution. Add to this the fact that regulators have found evidence that JPMorgan probably engaged in energy contract manipulation in California and Michigan, and you can see why Dimon is finding himself standing on rocky ground.
For his part, Dimon is planning to meet with federal bank examiners sometime next week. Although the meeting was set up some time ago at the bank's behest, Dimon is likely anxious to show that he is also willing to answer any questions the OCC may have concerning the issues that have cropped up since the meeting was set.
Once he gets through that grilling, he can prepare to face the bank's shareholders in two weeks' time. This May is certainly shaping up to be the hottest month on record for Jamie Dimon.