Jamie Dimon asks Ben Bernanke tough question on capital requirements
Playing the role of banker turned reporter, JPMorgan (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon quizzed Ben Bernanke Tuesday, asking the Federal Reserve chairman if capital requirements and unshaped banking legislation are the real culprits behind the nation's lackluster recovery. Bernanke's response: That is still unknown, but the Fed and regulators are watching the situation closely to strike the right balance between the need to regulate too-big-to-fail institutions and in making sure banks are able to confidently assist a recovery. Dimon broke from standard protocol when he directly questioned the Fed chairman during Bernanke's presentation at the International Monetary Conference in Atlanta. Bernanke's admission, which is essentially that no one knows what the right mix of regulation and constraint, leaves room for unintended consequences for anyone in banking reading between the lines. Yet, the Fed Chairman said regulators and fiscal policymakers will continue analyzing the situation using a cost-to-benefit analysis approach to eventually outline the right mix between regulation and growth. In other words, the Fed still does not know where those lines will be drawn or what the unintended consequences of new regulations will be, but they're aware of the growing concerns. Bernanke's speech Tuesday contained a few nuggets of positive information with the Fed projecting growth in the second half and reporting a modest 1.8% increase in the U.S. economy's aggregate output during the first quarter. Despite reporting some growth, the Fed Chief conceded that high unemployment, trepid job growth and soft consumer confidence are hindering a full recovery. Write to Kerri Panchuk.