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Jamie Dimon: JPMorgan is still too small

February 28, 2012: 5:23 PM ET
Jamie Dimon

Isn't he big enough already?

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon says his bank, the U.S.'s largest, may still be too small to succeed.

FORTUNE - Jamie Dimon can't be contained, at least not by Dodd-Frank.

At JPMorgan Chase's (JPM) annual investor day on Tuesday, CEO Dimon said he plans to continue to grow his bank, which is already the largest in the nation by assets, despite regulations and recent suggestions that JPMorgan might be worth more broken up. He said in the next five years or so, regulators are going to realize that mega-banks like JPMorgan and others are not big enough to compete with larger foreign rivals and remove the current caps. "We have one of the least consolidated banking systems in the world," said Dimon. "Would it be great for America if Boeing and Caterpillar were to use Chinese banks?"

Recently, some analysts have questioned Dimon's growth plans. Dimon's continues to rapidly expand bank branches - over 200 hundred in the past year alone - at a time when the economy remains weak. In a recent research report, bank analyst Mike Mayo questioned whether JPMorgan would be better off if it were to be broken-up rather than left whole. Rivals, such as Bank of America and Citigroup, appear to be in the process of shrinking.

Why JPMorgan has recently become a Wall Street laggard

Dimon said he has no plans to break up his bank. He thinks JPMorgan benefits more from its economy of scale than is hurt by the extra capital that the new rules require the bank to hold because its size. He said the economics of opening up new bank branches is still good.

The question that remains is whether what's good for JPMorgan is good for America. The purpose of Dodd-Frank was in part to reign in the nation's banks in order to make them safer. Dimon is saying, not for the first time, that cost of safety might be losing business to foreign rivals. My own thought is that U.S. businesses are going to do more banking with Chinese banks because they will be doing more business in China. Dimon can't change that.

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About This Author
Stephen Gandel
Stephen Gandel

Stephen Gandel has covered Wall Street and investing for over 15 years. He joins Fortune from sister publication TIME, where he was a senior business writer and lead blogger for The Curious Capitalist. He has also held positions at Money and Crain's New York Business. Stephen is a four-time winner of the Henry R. Luce Award. His work has also been recognized by the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the New York State Society of CPA and the Association of Area Business Publications. He is a graduate of Washington University, and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two children.

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