Sen. Warren, Jamie Dimon spar over overdraft fees at Senate hearing
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) got into a heated exchange with JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon during a hearing on Wednesday, in which she accused big Wall Street banks of overcharging their customers during the coronavirus pandemic.
During the Senate Banking Committee hearing, Warren began her line of questioning by noting that at the start of the pandemic, bank regulators issued joint guidance recommending that banks waive overdraft fees for their customers.
Warren asked Dimon, as well as the CEOs of Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley, to “raise your hand” if their bank automatically gave overdraft protections to their customers, to which Warren noted in the hearing held virtually that none appeared to do so.
The senator later accused Dimon of being the “star of the overdraft show,” arguing that JPMorgan collects “more than seven times as much money overdraft fees per account than your competitors.”
“So, Mr. Dimon, how much did JPMorgan collect in overdraft fees from their consumers in 2020?” Warren asked.
Dimon replied, “I think your numbers are totally inaccurate, but we’ll have to sit down privately and go through that.”
“But these are public numbers,” Warren said, speaking over Dimon.
The big bank CEOs came to the Senate today to talk about how they stepped up and took care of customers during the pandemic – and I told them that’s a bunch of baloney. They nickel and dimed their struggling customers with overdraft fees to line their own pockets. pic.twitter.com/yKYwScMUs9
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) May 26, 2021
The two continued to talk over each other as Dimon defended the company about the penalties banks assess when consumers withdraw more than they have in their accounts.
Warren then attempted to repeat her question on how much JPMorgan collected in overdraft fees, adding, “Do you know the number?”
“I don’t have the number in front of me,” Dimon began in his response, before Warren started talking over him, “Well, I actually have the number in front of me.”
“It’s $1.46 billion,” added the Massachusetts senator, an outspoken proponent of increased regulations over Wall Street banks.
Warren went on to ask if JPMorgan “would have been in financial trouble” if the bank followed the regulators’ recommendation in automatically waiving overdraft fees.
Dimon responded, “We waived the fees for customers upon request if they were under stress because of COVID.”
“I appreciate that you want to duck this question,” Warren replied, before repeating her request.
As the bank executive attempted to say his previous answer again, Warren interrupted, “The answer is your profits would have been $27.6 billion. I did the math for you.”
“So here’s the thing,” she continued. “You and your colleagues come in today to talk about how you stepped up and took care of customers during the pandemic, and it’s a bunch of baloney.”
“In fact, it’s about $4 billion worth of baloney, but you could fix that right now. Mr. Dimon, will you commit right now to refund $1.5 billion you took from consumers during the pandemic?” she asked.
“No,” Dimon responded.
“No, that’s right,” Warren said. “No matter how you try to spin it, this past year has shown that corporate profits are more important to your bank than offering just a little help to struggling families, even when we are in the middle of a worldwide crisis.”
Other lawmakers similarly challenged the banks during Wednesday’s hearing, with Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) arguing that the corporations are “built on short-term profits at the expense of long-term growth for everyone.”
Despite the financial hardships suffered by many during the pandemic, U.S. banks have reported substantial profits, with a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation report released Wednesday showing that the industry made $76.8 billion in the first quarter, breaking previous records.