Diary of a human shield

By:
Jon Macaskill
Published on:

Euromoney columnist Jon Macaskill imagines how Doug L Braunstein, the former chief financial officer of JPMorgan, chronicled his testimony at last week's Senate hearing.


March 12 2013

Good news! I am going to get a second chance to help our CEO Jamie Dimon put the questions about the London Whale trading losses behind us once and for all. On Friday I will get the early train from New York to Washington and we will explain what went wrong to the senators.

“Just stick to the points in your deck and if you get any questions about what Jamie knew or when he knew it say that you can’t recall,” our media trainers Joe and Kristin tell me.

“That should be easy,” I say. “Nobody told me anything about the trades at the time anyway and on the conference call with the analysts last year I said exactly what you wrote down for me.” They both shake their heads and say they have other people to brief.

I know that the call with the analysts last year didn’t go very well, but now that I am a vice-chairman I have more time to get ready for important meetings. When I was CFO they kept sending me long reports full of numbers from the trading desks and sometimes they would call up and say they wanted to use a different set of numbers instead, and then I would have to stay late at the office. Being a vice-chairman is much better.

March 13

Now that I am a vice-chairman, every day I ask myself: WWJD? Not “what would Jamie do” like you might expect, but “what would Jimmy do”?

Jimmy Lee is a vice-chairman just like me and even though he doesn’t get to go to the management meetings any more either, he is still very important and has a big office and his own car and driver. He often comes up with brilliant ideas, like the time last year when he got Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to call Jamie to cheer him up after one of our conference calls with the analysts. That was a big success!

I decide to go to the Four Seasons hotel to see whether Jimmy is having lunch. The waiter says they are very busy and gives me a seat at the bar instead of our normal table. He must be new. The woman sitting next to me asks whether I want to check out the view upstairs, but I say that I am busy getting ready for our trip to Washington and have to go back to the office.

March 14

I surprise Jimmy Lee in his office before he has time to go to lunch. He is practising golf strokes on his new Wii-enabled TV that also gives you stock prices from all around the world. I tell him that I have been trying to think of ways to cheer up the CEO. “Maybe we could ask Tom Brady to come for a visit instead of just phoning, and he could bring his wife Gisele this time,” I suggest.

“Never dip in the same well twice DB,” Jimmy says. “Never look a gift horse in the mouth and never, ever underestimate the resilience of this great country of ours.”

Jimmy has always been an inspiration to me, even when it isn’t clear what he means, so I ask him what I should say to the senators on Friday.

“When people ask me what Jamie Dimon means to me I say: moral courage. I say moral courage, a God-given over-supply of humanity and enough humility to last a thousand lifetimes,” Jimmy tells me, with his eyes misting over. “Thanks for coming in today Doug. We’re going to do this again very soon.”

March 15

It is our big day in Washington. I caught the train from New York last night so I wouldn’t be late. Peter Scher, who books our meetings in Washington, says I don’t have to worry about questions from Senator McCain. “He doesn’t understand trading any more than you do Doug. But whenever Senator Levin asks you a question about Jamie, just say you can’t recall.”

March 16

Phew! It was a long day in Washington yesterday, but I think it went well. Every time Senator Levin asked me anything about Jamie I said that I couldn’t recall and everyone patted me on the shoulder after it was over. Our media managers say that after a couple more of these sessions they won’t need me any more. So there will be plenty of time to find out what life as a vice-chairman is really like!