Jamie Dimon Says Banks Are Being Nice to You When They Take Your House

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Jamie Dimon has finally managed the difficult feat of making Lloyd Blankfein look good.

When Blankfein said Goldman was “doing God’s work,” as offensive and laughable as that sounds, it’s an arguable position. If you look at the God of the Old Testament, he’s a really cranky and often capricious character. Indeed (and I am NOT making this up), one of my friends, who got a PhD in theology after writing for one too many business publications, is working on a book that will argue, in effect, that the Bible is not pro-environment. Why? God is regularly smiting people, causing floods and tearing up the landscape and has a certain fondness for the use of fire and brimstone. He’s never (per her) nice to fallen birdies. So Goldman may see itself as the God-appointed deliverer of various forms of temptations of and pestilence upon the greedy (you know, investors and the public at large). And the Bible seems to be silent on the rewards for this particular duty, so there seems nothing prohibited in Goldman profiting from this role.

On another level, by not getting specific about what exactly Goldman does (the firm is engaged in a lot of activities), so this could be an effort to sanctify trickle-down: “We generate a lot of employment and pay taxes (whoops, well our staff does), so that’s good for everyone, right?”

Even though these efforts at deconstruction are a bit of a stretch, it’s even harder to paint lipstick on this pig from Jamie Dimon. As Adam Levitin writes:

I missed this howler from a few months ago, but it’s so outrageous that I’ve got to comment on it, even thought it’s stale. I’m amazed that this didn’t get much more press. In the course of a CNBC interview (full show here, foreclosure discussion runs from 4:07 to 5:23), JPMChase CEO Jamie Dimon stated that:

“Giving debt relief to people that really need it, that’s what foreclosure is.”

As he explained:

“[Homeowners] are probably better off going somewhere else, because they get relieved almost 100% of the debt through foreclosure.”

For real? It’s debt relief? Why not just go old school with “let them eat cake”?

“Debt relief” requires a forgiveness of debt. It’s a gift, not an exchange. There’s no quid pro quo. In foreclosure, however, the homeowner gives up the house, and doesn’t necessarily get any debt relief. If the mortgage is recourse, there could still be a deficiency judgment. Does Dimon mean that JPMChase is forgoing all deficiency judgments? I doubt it. And even if so, there’s an exchange of debt for house. That’s hardly debt relief. That’s debt collection.

There are, without question, some homeowners who feel quite relieved when the foreclosure is complete–the uncertainty of their living situation is finally resolved, and they aren’t saddled with a mortgage any more. But they might now have a mountain of unsecured debt.

Note that as we’ve noted, servicers seldom do pursue the portion of the mortgage over and above whatever they get back from selling the house (the “deficiency judgment”) but with the bank-generated media hype about strategic defaults, there is far more saber-rattling about going after borrowers who default, so it’s hard to imagine they now rest easy after the bank does them the big favor of relieving them of their house. Similarly if banks were so keen to be considerate to borrowers’ need to move on, they’d be far more receptive to short sales, yet both commentors on this site and media reports indicate that many servicers make it well nigh impossible to enter into a short sale when it is almost always a better outcome for the homeowner and investors (less credit report damage, lower losses on the sale of the house than selling it when vacant).

We’ve hit the point where people in positions of power make no bones about the fact that corporate persons get a better deal than the flesh and blood kind. Dimon would never dream of saying, “Yes, it’s good when weak companies fail and we sell factories for scrap value.” It’s taken as a given that it’s always better for both the borrower and lender to restructure the loan, ideally out of court. And if servicers were willing and able to do mortgage mods, they could be handled quietly, in a way that did not incite jealousy (how would you possibly know your neighbor got a mod unless he blabbed to you?). Credit card debt gets renegotiated all the time, yet we don’t see moralizing on the Web and in newspapers about it. It’s the banks’ intransigence and the fact that the government has had to intervene to force action that has led to public consternation.

Nevertheless, the Dimon moral calculus is fascinating. If foreclosures are kind, is it even kinder to restore debtors’ prisons? After all, those people who lose their homes would be assured of getting shelter.

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  1. bob

    Debtors prison would be very hard on a person psychologically. We should allow them the option to work for a week to earn the privilege to get in the Guillotine.

    End on a “morally” high note.

    1. brighterwhitelight

      i shun morality in favor of justice. there is a tide rising that is much greater than any before. if you can sarcastically suggest the guillotine, I can sarcastically encourage everyone to stop hiding behind big words and address it all directly. Me first.
      I hate the lies and deceit.
      I know it is falling down.
      In time, all truth will be known.
      your little liberated illuminati.

  2. attempter

    Giving debt relief to people that really need it, that’s what foreclosure is…[Homeowners] are probably better off going somewhere else, because they get relieved almost 100% of the debt through foreclosure.

    Since Dimon has been so kind to bring up the subject of debt relief, let’s pay him the compliment of being serious about it.

    Instead of submitting to foreclosure and (physically) “going somewhere else”, let’s go somewhere else politically and morally.

    Let’s self-relieve the debts by unilaterally jubilating them while staying in the house. Keep paying property taxes and being involved in the community. (And if you’re not already involved, get involved.) If a critical mass relieved themselves of 100% of the mortgage debt, it would crash the banks once and for all. Feel free to relieve yourself of any other bank debt if that’s your best option.

    It is in fact impossible for an American citizen to owe the banks anything. We the people own them; they are public property since we involuntarily purchased them via the Bailout. Since the banks serve no purpose and are purely destructive, the best thing we can do with this dangerous and rancid object we bought is destroy it. If in the process we can get back some of what we paid (what the banksters stole), we should do so. So consider any renunciation of bank debt as a citizen taking back his particular portion of what was stolen from all citizens.

    1. Pearl

      I’m with you, Attempter.

      If nothing else–the big banks need to know that such an option is within our power. We (the people) could make them (the big banks) go away. And we could do it pretty darned fast, too.

      The big banks continue to skate on ice that they don’t seem to realize has become quite thin. And the temperature is only going up…

      1. DownSouth

        The popes, emperors, cardinals, kings, prelates, and nobles of the time sorted through the snarl and, being typical men in power, chose to believe what they wanted to believe, accepting whatever justified their policies and convictions and ignoring the rest. Even the wisest of them were at a hopeless disadvantage, for their only guide in sorting it all out—-the only guide anyone ever has—-was the past, and precedents are worse than useless when facing something entirely new.
        ▬William Manchester, A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance

  3. Three Wickets

    This guy in Bloomberg says banks should be helping more homeowners with debt-for-equity swaps…like a reverse mortgage. Guess it might make sense for some people if they’re not underwater. A lifetime of debt.

  4. Nonanonymous

    “Why not just go old school with “let them eat cake”?” LOL

    Since our government relieved the banks of toxic loans, and nearly 100% of all new loans are underwritten by Freddie and Fannie, as I understand it, then the banks aren’t on the hook for the loans they’re servicing. Most likely, the owner of the note is Freddie or Fannie, or some other entity.

    These obligations have already been discounted by the markets.

    As QE winds down, and the economy resets, foreclosure rates can be expected to increase in a big way. If QE3 is enacted, then the end of the dollar is near. There is no clear way out of this mess without stabilizing the economy, which begins with addressing wealth disparity and corporate tax reform. Status quo is unsustainable, and we ignore the causes of the instability at our own peril.

    1. Rex

      Well there you go, getting all rational on us.

      The system is based on faith, the latest magic, and divine destiny. Some of the lower morlocks, who thought they deserved something, have had to be removed from the realm of the magic spell. So be it. The magic must be preserved at any cost.

      The Road Runner cartoons come fairly close if you cast the wizard as Wiley Coyote. There is no shortage of schemes and gadgets for world domination from the Acme Corp. but our coyote world is different from the cartoon. When the Wiley schemer discovers that he has run off the end of the cliff, legs still spinning, and is beginning to fall, Acme assistants are trailing close behind and build scaffolding under him to prevent the fall.

      (Think a mix of Foghorn Leghorn and Richard Pryor…) How long, I say, how long, can this scaffolding go on?

      The big problem with the coyote-land metaphor is that I don’t think there is a part for the Road Runner who can innocently watch the crazy proceedings and continue on, unaffected.

      1. Nonanonymous

        Perhaps, perhaps. Rubber meets the road in mid June. Geithner is allowing 4 weeks for debate. The Treasury will have burned through April 15th tax reciepts by June 15th, and he’s said the debt ceiling must be raised by *gasp* $2T, reminiscent of Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movie who is going to hold the world hostage for $1M.

        You’re right, it’s a farce. However, I still believe the economy can be stabilized by reforming individual and corporate tax policy to address income disparity, although Gates and Buffet disapprove and will take their money to another continent. Good luck, there’s 10 billion people in the world and counting.

        Amen, brother, come, Lord Jesus, come, Amen!

        1. readerOfTeaLeaves

          Well, speaking as a farce-watching morlock, I have no idea whether your facts are correct, but that whole Wiley Coyote meme sure does resonate. Along with the notion that corporate structures need fundamental revisions.

    1. JasonRines

      Expect an ever increasing black market now. People will do what they need to survive. The really wealthy won’t want to live here much longer. They don’t live in Russia for a reason and our society is becoming very similar. Additional capital flight will ensue for several years.

      Everybody has a racket in Russia. The society has its own methods of handling and protecting revenue streams at the top and bottom. Large mafia and black market. The Russians tell me life has improved since the 1990’s and that the fear of societal change is worse then the changes themselves.

  5. Brick

    “Giving debt relief to people that really need it, that’s what foreclosure is.”
    Translates to we are not making money on it so it must be good for them, totally forgetting that the money they made before the crash was where the money went.
    On a wider theme perhaps this shows that grass roots banking in JPM has no way of communicating with the top without all the unpleasant news being filtered out before it reaches the top. Like many big institutions there may be too many levels of management for proper decision making or understanding to take place. I think it was the UK armed forces that worked out if you had more than 5 levels of management decision making became impared. The problem is that mis-information then becomes spread to other decision makers until something breaks. Who could have known will be uttered yet again.I would sum it up as head in the clouds without his feet on the ground.

  6. jake chase

    Has anyone seen those cute and cuddly JPMC commercials extolling the bank for its ten billion in domestic business loans? Does anyone know anybody who got one? I would love to know what small business is being financed by Chase or anybody else. Perhaps this is 500 new Bobby Flay restauramts? It is hard to imagine any ripe opportunities.

  7. Daniel Pennell

    I called the Deans office at HBS. The question I asked was; “What emphasis do you put on ethics and how do you teach it?”. The response I got was; “Look at our website”.

    Two things occur to me.

    1. That there should be some sort of EQ requirement to be given the license to kill and steal that an MBA from a major school has become.

    2. Maybe we should be looking for a different class of intellect to lead our national businesses.

    1. Lurker

      Business ethics boils down to knowing who you can cheat and harm, and who you can’t.

  8. F. Beard

    If you look at the God of the Old Testament, he’s a really cranky Yves Smith

    Not really. The Lord gave the Ammorites 490 years to repent before giving them the boot in favor of the Hebrews. Jeremiah preached for 23 years to the Jews before the ax fell. The final straw was when the Jews reneged on their release of their illegally held Hebrew debt slaves. And then the Lord proclaimed a release to the Jews – “to the sword, to the pestilence and to the famine; and I will make you a terror to all the kingdoms of the earth.”

    and often capricious character. Yves Smith

    The Greek gods were known for being capricious. The God of the Old Testament is full of mercy and compassion and slow to wrath.

    Indeed (and I am NOT making this up), one of my friends, who got a PhD in theology after writing for one too many business publications, is working on a book that will argue, in effect, that the Bible is not pro-environment. Yves Smith

    Right now the Lord’s bacteria are busy cleaning up toxic waste dumps and the Gulf Of Mexico.

    The Lord does get wrathful but never capriciously. He get angry for mistreatment of the poor, widows, orphans and aliens. What good liberal or progressive wouldn’t?

    And btw, it is the Lord of the Old Testament who commands against usury from one’s fellow countrymen and for periodic debt forgiveness.

    1. SubjectivObject

      In any case, the elelphant in the room is anthropomorphization of the Deity. Itself a fundamentally human behavioral trait others have called projection.

      1. skippy

        It is strange that through out most of humanity’s existence, to validate theory, some feel the need to apply Deity status to it.

        Skippy…2000sih years seems to be the benchmark, until collapse under their own weight. Evolution is dogmas antithesis, one is ridged where the other flexible, the fossil record is chocker block with ridged examples.

        1. F. Beard

          Your faithlessness is predicted too:

          “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8 (New American Standard Bible)

          1. skippy

            There is no single Bible, as the individual books (Biblical canon), their contents and their order vary between denominations. Mainstream Judaism divides the Tanakh into 24 books, while a minority stream of Judaism, the Samaritans, accepts only five. The 24 texts of the Hebrew Bible are divided into 39 books in Christian Old Testaments, and complete Christian Bibles range from the 66 books of the Protestant canon to the 81 books in the Ethiopian Orthodox Bible.[3]

            The primary biblical text for early Christians was the Septuagint or (LXX). In addition, they translated the Hebrew Bible into several other languages. Translations were made into Syriac, Coptic, Ge’ez and Latin, among other languages. The Latin translations were historically the most important for the Church in the West, while the Greek-speaking East continued to use the Septuagint translations of the Old Testament and had no need to translate the New Testament.

            The earliest Latin translation was the Old Latin text, or Vetus Latina, which, from internal evidence, seems to have been made by several authors over a period of time. It was based on the Septuagint, and thus included books not in the Hebrew Bible.

            Pope Damasus I assembled the first list of books of the Bible at the Council of Rome in AD 382. He commissioned Saint Jerome to produce a reliable and consistent text by translating the original Greek and Hebrew texts into Latin. This translation became known as the Latin Vulgate Bible and in 1546 at the Council of Trent was declared by the Church to be the only authentic and official Bible in the Latin Rite.

            Especially since the Protestant Reformation, Bible translations for many languages have been made. The Bible has seen a notably large number of English language translations.

            Biblical criticism refers to the investigation of the Bible as a text, and addresses questions such as authorship, dates of composition, and authorial intention. It is not the same as criticism of the Bible, which is an assertion against the Bible being a source of information or ethical guidance.
            Higher criticism
            Main articles: Higher criticism and Lower criticism

            In the 17th century Thomas Hobbes collected the current evidence to conclude outright that Moses could not have written the bulk of the Torah. Shortly afterwards the philosopher Baruch Spinoza published a unified critical analysis, arguing that the problematic passages were not isolated cases that could be explained away one by one, but pervasive throughout the five books, concluding that it was “clearer than the sun at noon that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses….” Despite determined opposition from Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, the views of Hobbes and Spinoza gained increasing acceptance amongst scholars.



            Skippy….Your (New American Standard Bible), lets not even get started with the first seven Ecumenical Councils and editing room floor with regards to biblical text. Your observations with regards to currency are valid with out omnipotence.

          2. skippy

            When the tower is so tall, everything else is so small, too Jamie’s eyes…observations of a financial deity…booming from the MSM. Personally it needs the fire touch to impress me. I mean too say fully engulfed, no Baghdad battery tricks or hidden magical steam operated door thingy. Beguiling the sheep to part with their meager coinage of favors promise by self appointed shepherds.

            Skippy…if it was an inside joke between women about to give birth, a string attached to their mates manhood, tugged every time they contracted. Such should be Jamie’s, Bankinfiends, et al’s fate…from all their customers.

            They asked for the money, demanded it, its not our fault!

            PS…hope that negated previous trolling…

          3. Doug Terpstra

            Bankster Dimon is a long-suffering victim of predatory subprime borrowers after all — the moneychangers’ eternal burden.

    2. DownSouth

      F. Beard said: “The God of the Old Testament is full of mercy and compassion and slow to wrath.”

      Then how do you explain this:

      When you draw near to a town to fight against it, offer it terms of peace. If it accepts your terms of peace and surrenders to you, then all the people in it shall serve you at forced labor. If it does not submit to you peacefully, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it; and when the Lord your God gives it into your hand, you shall put all its males to the sword. You may, however, take as your booty the women, the children, livestock, and everything else in the town, all its spoil. You may enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which the Lord your God has given you. Thus you shall treat all the towns that are very far from you, which are not towns of the nations here. But as for the towns of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you must not let anything that breathes remain alive. You shall annihilate them—the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites—just as the Lord your God has commanded, so that they may not teach you to do all the abhorrent things that they do for their gods, and you thus sin against the Lord your God.
      Deuteronomy 20:10-18

      1. frances snoot

        You explain it by ignoring inconsistencies in favor of a terminology-based faith which quacks. Like ducks. In a line.

      2. F. Beard

        I said the Lord was slow to wrath not that He was not wrathful. He gave the Amorites 490 years to repent – they who did such lovely things as burn their children to Moloch.

        But what do you prefer Snoot?

        1) An uncaring Universe with no wrath but no love either that might kill us all anyway?
        2) An always kind but mostly powerless God?
        3) A loving all-powerful God who eventually loses patience with people who sorely test Him?

        I’ll take 3). Yes, I am a sinner but He hasn’t killed me yet so I still have hope.

      3. Ming

        Respect Downsouth! Very nice quote from the bible, it glaringly points out the apparent inconsistency of a ‘loving God’ who orders His people to commit Genocide.

        But we can extrapolate further…. How can an omnipotent and omniscient God, who is supposed to be ‘all loving’, (as the Christians would believe), allow for all of the horrendus ignorance, suffering, evil man- made disasters, and natural disasters that have plagued humanity ( and our evolutionary ancestors for countless millions of years). No loving father would ever allow his children to suffer like this.

        As a Christian, I can only say that I do not know why He had allowed this to happen. God did say clearly in The book of Isiah ‘My ways are Above your ways’. This is a logical statement, since He has a view of eternity, whereas our perspective only our time on earth. There is certainly the lesson of Job, who God allowed to go through crushing suffering, to serve His purpose, and the mystery of the Crucufixtion and Ressurectiin of Christ; why did God need Jesus to suffer this way, we will never truly know.

        My suspicion, ( and it is only a suspicion), it is that through suffering, that God wants to teach us empathy and compassion for each other. As it wad written in Isiah ‘I desire compassion, not sacrifice’. Perhaps when humanity has truly learned this lesson, we will be as Jesus said ‘but a little bit less than God’.

      4. Doug Terpstra

        In that day, only men begat essential genes, so women could be saved as inert vessels for breeding.

        There were also the Philistines (Palestinians) and the Amalekites:

        “Samuel said to Saul, ‘I am the one the LORD sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the LORD. This is what the LORD Almighty says: “I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy[a] all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”’” 1 Samuel 15:1-3
        http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1 Samuel+15&version=NIV

        This cognitive dissonance — that the one true God of perfect love and justice, is also chauvinistic, jealous, vengeful and genocidal — remains entrenched in “mainstream” Judeo-Churchianity theology. And so the church today is still an echo of the medieval Catholic Church during the Crusades and the Inquisition, when infidels and heretics were tortured and killed by divine right. Of course we Gentiles are elected, chosen by proxy (saved), from such horrors through ‘correct’ faith, while most of sub-humanity is doomed to eternal damnation (a New Testament terror). This permits us to exploit or smite those outside of our own true faith with impunity, a la GWB and now Obama, dispatching them to the almighty’s infinite justice as necessary when they get uppity.

        1. F. Beard

          Of course we Gentiles are elected, chosen by proxy (saved), from such horrors through ‘correct’ faith, while most of sub-humanity is doomed to eternal damnation Doug Terpstra


          And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” Exodus 33:19

          (a New Testament terror). Doug Terpstra

          It is present in the Old Testament too:

          “Then they will go forth and look on the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm will not die and their fire will not be quenched; and they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.” Isaiah 66:24

          How many times must I correct the Biblically ignorant before they realize they are ignorant?

          1. skippy

            Dear Beard, one can not use the umbrage:

            “How many times must I correct the Biblically ignorant before they realize they are ignorant?”

            As I denoted before (above), the creation (circumspect authors et al), the sheer volume over time of competing tomes, The en-cooperation of pagan rituals to draw in natives, the blending of regional view points by Monarchs or Emperors in a political manner out side of theocratic processes (political expediency trumps all past theocratic definitions), hence the need to constantly reinterpret, societal awareness (understanding of the Universe around them through empirical observation) requiring constant revisions of theocracy’s previous opines.

            Hell check out Egypt’s first go with monotheism (there’s a scary though, eh..well of it all). The efforts required to even try to pull it off (relocate capital), the observances with offerings (vast quantity’s of top self food), and the subsequent environmental changes (especially changing river coarse). Also the global uprising of singularity based religious beliefs within a relative short social strata time line.

            Simply put human history is replete with with individuals or groups utilizing some form of vaporous omnipotence which either imbues its user[s divine status by proxy or are the divine incarnate, and hence only they can decipher the real meaning of its complexity (contradictions).

            Personally I find the parallels with in economics and high order political dogma to be one in the same, only we are gifted enough by above to weld its intentional complexity…listen to us, not them, and defiantly no home studies with out proper guidance…that’s how the devil gets in ya (been there, done that).

            Skippy…heck the only thing I’m absolute about is one book can not claim absoluteness, especially when it needs constant revisions, to stay relevant.

            PS. old job Port Warratah 3rd phase expansion (Bechtel), 20 odd revisions to the original blue prints over less than a year. How did a preeminent global engineering mob, get it so wrong, so many times. A book is only a repository of others thoughts, finalized with the last stroke of the pen. For others to claim revisions with out the original authors, on that day, input, is well presumptuous extrema.

            Stay well, Beard.


          2. Doug Terpstra

            Thanks, Skippy.

            Of course the great bearded inquisitor made my chief point — that religion and theology are an infinite font of conflict. I could argue finer points of inscrutable theology with dueling scriptures and prophecies, parse the punctuation of manifold contradictions and engage in holier-than-thou arguments over original Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic (well okay not really). But in other days, his heavily-burdened holiness would simply have me lashed for incorrect catechism and unordained impudence, or worse, have put me to the question (hung from my arms behind my back) until I confessed my unworthiness and ignorance; for more egregious heresy, he could have had me drawn and quartered, burned at the stake, drowned or beheaded.

            That is the unfortunate legacy of Churchianity; it completely misses point. It has promoted crusades, slavery, torure, genocide, and war, and it is still fueling violence in the over-promised land of the Middle East today.

      5. Antipodeus

        It was a tactic that worked pretty well for Genghis Khan, too. Why lose soldiers and time besieging a town, when you can terrorize them into surrendering without a fight? If they won’t surrender, then when you finally take the town you slaughter all the men (which eliminates potential resistance troublemakers) and take ‘all their stuff’. Word of your merciless frightfulness gets around, and makes the next target more likely to surrender without a fight. “Better something than nothing, right?”

        And, of course, ‘ethnic cleansing’ is an age-old tactic to ‘tidy up’ the nicer places to live which take your fancy.

        Kind of like putting ‘the fear of God’ into your enemies?

  9. DownSouth

    A true-believer in the theology of Neoclassical Economics, a la Ayn Rand, could certainly come to the conclusion that Blankfein and Dimon did, which is that they are doing good (God’s work) by being greedy.

    The best discussion I’ve found on this is the chapter titled “Ayn Rand: Religious Zealot” from David Sloan Wilson’s book Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives.

    Here’s how Wilson sums up the competing moral positions proselytized by Judeo-Christianity and Rand’s “stealth religion” (A “stealth religion,” according to Wilson, is a religion masquerading as scientific objectivism.):

    • Traditional Judeo-Christian morality: Benevolence is a win-win proposition. Greed is a lose-lose proposition
    • Ayn Rand morality: Benevolence is a lose-lose proposition. Greed is a win-win proposition.

    REALITY, according to Wilson: “After we admire religions for their practical realism, however, we also appreciate how they depart from factual realism along the way. The real world is full of complicated trade-offs, conflicts of interest, and win-lose situations.”

    But as Wilson goes on to point out, win-lose propositions, when it comes to benevolent or greedy behavior, are nonexistent in both Judeo-Christianity as well as Rand’s new stealth religion.

    1. DownSouth

      I might add that, in his drive to salvage traditional religion—-to show that it can be adaptive—-from the paladins of greed like Rand, Richard Dawkins and the other New Atheists, Wilson sometimes goes too far in putting a benign face on religion. Even though Wilson seems to be aware of it, IMHO he gives short shrift to how easily traditional religions can be corrupted and thus rendered maladaptive.

      The Christian theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, however, was more skeptical about traditional religion, as explained by Arthur Schlesinger Jr. here:

      Original sin, by tainting all human perceptions, is the enemy of absolutes. Mortal man’s apprehension of truth is fitful, shadowy and imperfect; he sees through the glass darkly. Against absolutism Niebuhr insisted on the “relativity of all human perspectives,” as well as on the sinfulness of those who claimed divine sanction for their opinions. He declared himself “in broad agreement with the relativist position in the matter of freedom, as upon every other social and political right or principle.” In pointing to the dangers of what Justice Robert H. Jackson called “compulsory godliness,” Niebuhr argued that “religion is so frequently a source of confusion in political life, and so frequently dangerous to democracy, precisely because it introduces absolutes into the realm of relative values.” Religion, he warned, could be a source of error as well as wisdom and light. Its role should be to inculcate, not a sense of infallibility, but a sense of humility. Indeed, “the worst corruption is a corrupt religion.”

      1. Dave of Maryland

        This has now gotten off the subject and yes, I am trolling, but religion is a case of the stupid leading the blind in a quest for El Dorado. It needs to be reconceputalized from first principles.

        And as original sin was mentioned:

        Original sin is the accumulated debris from your most recent past life. It’s all the thoughts that were in your head when you were 3, 4 & 5 years old, as well as what you eventually did with them.

        In the Catholic Church the sacraments of Baptism & Confirmation are supposed to dissolve & wash away all of this, but in my personal experience they did nothing of the sort. I am curious if the whole-body dunk in the river is any better. Teenage suicides are proof that not only does Baptism not work, but that original sin is real, as there can be no other explanation for such contradictory behavior. Theologians are among the most stupid.

        You may now return to Bankers Engaged in God’s Sacred Work. The stupid leading the blind to the greedy.

        1. DownSouth

          If life were only so simple, that religion could just be summarily dismissed as “a case of the stupid leading the blind.”

          Yours is the position proselytized by the New Atheists. And nothing short of remarkable are the cognitive gymnastics that the New Atheists perform in order to explain away the fact that religion has been ubiquitous, both in time and in space, throughout the existence of humankind. The New Atheists have great trouble answering a very simple question: If religion is so maladaptive, and one believes in evolution, then why does religion exist?

          For a short primer in “Let me count the ways the New Atheists get it wrong,” there’s this short primer by the environmental psychologist Jonathan Haidt, MORAL PSYCHOLOGY AND THE MISUNDERSTANDING OF RELIGION, where he concludes:

          My point is just that every longstanding ideology and way of life contains some wisdom, some insights into ways of suppressing selfishness, enhancing cooperation, and ultimately enhancing human flourishing….

          A militant form of atheism that claims the backing of science and encourages “brights” to take up arms may perhaps advance atheism. But it may also backfire, polluting the scientific study of religion with moralistic dogma and damaging the prestige of science in the process.

          For the long version of “Let me count the ways the New Atheists get it wrong” I recommend David Sloan Wilson’s two books, Darwin’s Cathedral and Evolution for Everyone.

          1. Anon

            Original sin as taught by most christian sects is a form of collective punishment of humans, and as such, is a notion that should be heartily resisted.

            Unless we’re all suddenly in favor of collective punishment, that is.

            The great early British anarchist, Pelagius, opponent of the demented Augustine of Hippo (and who Augustine singularly failed to have defenestrated at the Council of Carthage) decided that original sin and free will are logically incompatible over 1,000 years ago.

            So do we choose the slavery of determinism (are the banks really, intrinsically too big to fail?), or do we choose self-determination? (The latter additionally comes with the benefit of not having to be patronized by neolib corporate authoritarians like ol’ Jamie here.)

            Or as someone else once said, man in born free, but everywhere he is in chains.

            Dimon-wrought chains of debt slavery, that is.

          2. DownSouth


            The most hard-hitting critique of Pelagianism that I have encountered was delivered by Martin Luther King, Jr. in his article “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence,” published in the April 27, 1960 issue of Christian Century:

            I also came to see that liberalism’s superficial optimism concerning human nature caused it to overlook the fact that reason is darkened by sin. The more I thought about human nature the more I saw how our tragic inclination for sin causes us to use our minds to rationalize our actions. Liberalism failed to see that reason by itself is little more than an instrument to justify man’s defensive ways of thinking. Reason, devoid of the purifying power of faith, can never free itself from distortions and rationalizations.

          3. DownSouth


            I would also add that within the confines of the Western religious tradition, what I see the bankers and their minions doing is teaching-imposing-reinforcing a grotesque double standard: a totally debased Judeo-Christian nominalism (the tradition of Christian thought that comes closest to Pelagianism) for themselves, and for everybody else either 1) a principled Judeo-Christian nominalism (think St. Francis or Erasmus), or 2) a scrupulous Christian Platonism (the extremist position that occupies the other end of the spectrum from nomialism—-think Luther or to a lesser extent Augustine).

            Christian nominalism, with its emphasis on materialism and selfish individualism, is far easier to corrupt than Christian Platonism with its emphasis on spirituality.

      2. Kiste

        Again with the Dawkins and New Atheists nonsense, none if it has ANYTHING to do with anything that is of relevance here, yet you still miss no opportunity to verbosely reiterate the same nonsense again and again and again. It’s getting old.

        1. DownSouth

          All you do is endlessly reiterate the tenets of your faith. And you never present any evidence.

          Of course you can’t present any evidence to substantiate your faith, because it doesn’t exist. It only exists in your mind.

          Pat Robertson and Richard Dawkins are cut from the same cloth. They’re both preachers, the only difference is that one comes from the Greed-is-Good branch of Chirstianity, and the other comes from the Greed-is-Good branch of atheism.

          1. Antipodeus

            You seem to do a pretty good job of ‘preaching’, yourself, ‘DownSouth’. And it’s completely off the topic of the article, I would submit.

          2. DownSouth


            Funny you should pick up on the preaching part, and not what it is they are preaching.

            Bunny trails, anyone?

  10. LeeAnne

    I have a response to Jamie Dimon: RICO

    The securitization of residential real estate and the selection of Chicago gangsters for influential positions in government to loot and tear down legal protections for consumers and citizen civil rights, concurrently squander US treasure on foreign adventures, install the largest security and propaganda apparatus for surveillance and mental corruption of US citizens, avoid both real estate law and securities law like ‘know your customer,’ qualifies the TBTF banks as the biggest ongoing criminal enterprise the world has ever seen.

  11. bentheredonethat

    The real problem, I fear, is that Mr. Dimon has convinced himself that he really believes what he is saying and his management team just shakes their head in semi-disbelief, and then they carry on. I do not believe that the multitude of management layers at JPM is the problem. They are pretty good at detailed info, data mining and analytics – but that is the rub. What Dimon is really saying is we are going whole hog down the road of foreclosing and as long as I can say stupid, amoral things with a straight face, so be it. Amen. I am sure Jamie has been accused of being ethical (which I would support), but no one ever accused him of being moral (and no one should).

  12. Neil Jeffrey

    Why not bring in some equality between ALL big business bonus grabbers VS small business people.
    Small business people are required by banks to bet their homes on their business success. This is OK.
    Big business bonus grabbers should also be required (by law) to put their homes up as collateral for them to EARN their bonus; and they should be required (by law) to accept a bonus no larger than they are prepared to lose (home = collateral).
    This is the intrinsic inequality between big VS small business!
    See more: http://www.suretech.co.za/CreditCrisis.pdf

  13. Cedric Regula

    WSJ Headline:

    “Lloyd Blankfien, Goldman Sachs CEO, Tells Clients “You Can’t Take It With You”. Jamie Dimon Confirms Same To Homeowners.”

  14. Roquentin

    Never underestimate the power of narcissism, the need to feel good and morally correct in what one is doing, no matter how self-serving or reprehensible the action is.

  15. Tom Crowl

    Looks like John Stumpf got an earful at his shareholder’s meeting…

    Hundreds Protest Wells Fargo Shareholder Meeting in SF

    Dear Mr. Stumpf*… do you really believe sub-standard servicing (nominally profitable to you – though more broadly economically devastating – so long as the sheeple roll-over quietly) is good for job-creation?

    Or is it part of the prevalent IBGYBG management style?(I’ll be gone, you’ll be gone)

    In 2010, Wells Fargo reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission that it paid its CEO John Stumpf more than $17 million, including a $14 million bonus.

    1. Ming

      From your passage
      “So Goldman may see itself as the God-appointed deliverer of various forms of temptations of and pestilence upon the greedy (you know, investors and the public at large”
      Perhaps Goldman and their ilk are an incarnation of the ‘horned lamb’ from the book of revelations, who speaks like the dragon ( talks with great authority but also with much deceitful cruelty), and causes the nations to worship the ‘dead horn’ of the Beast, (ie worship money,debt, and neo- liberal economics, and free(-to-enslave-) market capitalism. The ‘dead horn’, which is dead and yet alive, could be an allegory for our debt based money system; debt is a creation of our economic system, but it can grow via interest accumulation, and it has power due to legal covenants surrounding it.

      As for your next sentence…
      ‘And the Bible seems to be silent on the rewards for this particular duty, so there seems nothing prohibited in Goldman profiting from this role.’
      If Goldman, and the deceitful ones among wallstreet, is the servant of the Beast, then According to Revelations, it will share the same fate, to be thrown into the lake of fire.

  16. F. Beard

    Your observations with regards to currency are valid with out omnipotence. Skippy

    Thanks but the Bible (directly or indirectly) is my inspiration for those thoughts on money.

    As for the Bible, I’ve come to the conclusion that the evidence is more than adequate. Life is full of choices we must make with less than 100% certainty. Those who insist that God must be proven to them nevertheless accept far less evidence for other choices they make that are far more problematic.

    1. skippy

      Last comment before Yves uses her sitting stick on me (looks like a big silver hammer lol inference).

      An old friend, a chef, said the Grateful Dead influenced him to be the non-money grubbing selfish consumer he despised persona. When I informed him that the Grateful Dead was the all time live band money earner_in history_and filthy rich, well it was not foie gras coming out of his ears.

      Skippy…religion and money are like bankers and non reserve electrons, once they achieve certain mass, can bring a world down around them.

      1. F. Beard

        When I informed him that the Grateful Dead was the all time live band money earner_in history_and filthy rich, well it was not foie gras coming out of his ears. skippy

        Ah yes. The hippy-hypocrites. Reminds me of the Judas goats which were spared themselves while their followers were slaughtered?

        1. K Ackermann

          Now now… hypocrite is a strong word given the analogy.

          Science is the study of probabilities,
          Religion is the study of absolutes.

  17. Finnucane

    Mr. Dimon has convinced himself that he really believes what he is saying …

    Proposing that the banker mafia has despoiled our republic out of ignorance, oversight, mistake, negligence, etc., serves to exonerate the perpetrators. Negligent homicide is actionable under our laws, but this is a case of cold-blooded murder.

    I browse this blog’s comment section enough to expect that DownSouth will jump on you for this.

      1. bentheredonethat

        Finnucane – You misread my note. I am not excusing him at all and I do not give him an out for mere negligence. I am also blaming his posse for putting up with his antics and for going along with them. BTW – criminally negligent homicide is just a different view of the elements of cold-blooded murder.
        I am ready to be jumped.

  18. jacke

    I guess in a roundabout way you could say he’s Dimon is right. After the bank destroys the business you work for and all the related businesses by calling the loans that allowed projects to get built, that funded the payroll until product was sold and so on, your job is gone and you can’t pay the mortgage, so they may as well take the house.
    Keep in mind that most of these so-called bad business loans were not “bad” until the banks stopped funding them. The courts have decided that banks have the ability to act “at will” and have no need to prove cause for cancelling a loan that they agreed to fund. See Reger Development v. National City for a court case that has very far reaching consequences. Any business who borrows today is crazy, which means recovery is not likely any time soon.

    1. monday1929

      The insolvency of the banks has led to illiquidity in the real economy. Economically justifiable projects must be dying on the vine.
      I would like to hear how business planning has been affected by the bubble/bust environment.

  19. eric anderson

    Anybody who thinks the Old Testament God was harsh has obviously forgotten about the New Testament book of Revelation.

    The Old Testament prophets were full of opprobrium for the depredation visited on the poor by the rich and powerful. For example, Jeremiah chapter 5:

    “For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men. As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich. They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge. Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?”

    The New Testament is no different. “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you… Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. You have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.” (James 5:1,4-5)

    It sounds very current, does it not?

  20. pjwrites

    My house will be sold at a short sale tomorrow. I bought in 2005 and one year after I bought, I could have sold the thing and made $100,000.00 in profits. But I bought the house to live in because I loved the house, the schools, and the community and location.
    Then I lost my job/company – won’t go into that, have mentioned it before – so, I quit paying my mortgage and put the hose up for sale in October, working with the bank on a short sale.
    Tomorrow, the bank will accept a sale for exactly $100,000 LESS than I paid for the house. But in reality, they will have my initial deposit of $36,000.00, as well as the proceeds from an interest only loan that has existed for 6 years, payments on which total $108,000.00. I’m out $144,000 over the last 6 years – what exactly has the bank “lost” here?

    My credit is shot, I am too old to land a job in my field (advertising), business opportunities are rare in this economy, and my home will be gone as of tomorrow.

    Thanks for the “debt relief”, Jamie. I feel so much better now.

  21. Hugh

    How about debt relief for banks? Audit them using mark to market valuations, reassess both their derivative exposures (get rid of the fiction of netting) and liabilities due to housing fraud, and then put them through bankruptcy.

    Oh and RICO corporate officers like Dimon, and criminal prosecutions of both corporate officers and the corporations themselves. Honest, Jamie, you will fell much better after they let you out of the pen –in 20 or 30 years.

  22. FatCat

    FatCat here, so listen up my soon-to-be-foreclosed chumps, ‘cause I don’t like to repeat myself.

    Regarding the good and holy work that Jamie is doing when kicking orphans and widows out of foreclosed homes, we are now working with our Republican friends in Congress and our president in the White House, to soon pass legislation reinstating debtors prisons and chain gangs. So, gods like ME and Jamie will soon provide shelter as well as employment to deadbeats everywhere.

    We also put together a 1000 year economic plan for this nation. During the first 20 years the chain gangs will almost exclusively focus on building more prisons — enough to provide housing and employment to approximately 300 million Americans. Beyond that initial 20 years, homelessness and unemployment shall be permanently eradicated.

    We are obviously doing God’s work. Is that clear?!

    Fat Cat

  23. Hugh

    Re religion and the environment, it is my understanding, not being religious myself, that much of the debate in Christianity revolves around Genesis 1:26 and repeated and developed 28-30:

    “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth”

    The question is whether the use of the word “dominion” or “rule” or “reign” etc. in various translations means exploit or serve as a steward of. Vv. 29-30 refer to both plants and animals as “meat/food” for man, so for human consumption, but again consumption is not exploitation.

    Maybe someone better grounded in the theology could comment on this.

    In a more general sense, it is difficult to see the relevance of a 3,000+ year value system and world view to us, except as metaphor.

    1. F. Beard

      In a more general sense, it is difficult to see the relevance of a 3,000+ year value system and world view to us, except as metaphor. Hugh

      Well, the Bible warned us against usury but ooops, we didn’t listen. The Bible commands debt forgiveness but so far no show. The Bible commands “Thou shalt not steal” but our banking system is based on systematic theft of purchasing power.

      The Bible also says that God is not mocked and we shall reap what we have sown but let’s consider that irrelevant too.

      And then when the shthf let’s wonder why.

      1. Hugh

        The other big verse cited which I should have included is Genesis 2:15:

        “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”

        and rooting around a bit this from Revelations 11:18

        “..your wrath has come. The time has come for … destroying those who destroy the earth”

    2. FatCat

      No, no, no, no, no! There is a typo in “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”. The correct version reads “Let us make god in OUR image, after our likeness”.

      Is that clear, my little peasants?!


  24. LAS

    This is certainly classic.

    How carefully Dimon shields himself from a full frontal glimpse of his own greed. He’s helping others to accept what he does, not at all exerting himself to help others. Huge difference.

    Reminds me of Alice in Wonderland, when the pages fearfully paint the white roses red for the vanity of the queen, who is quick to assign people the loss of their head.

  25. Hugh

    A comment by skippy reminded me of the scene in the gondola of the carousel in the Third Man. Consider Jamie Dimon as a latter day Harry Lime,

    Martins: Have you ever seen any of your victims?

    Harry Lime: You know, I never feel comfortable on these sort of things. Victims? Don’t be melodramatic. Look down there. Tell me. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man. Free of income tax – the only way you can save money nowadays.”

    1. JCC

      Great movie, beats hell out of listening to the proselytizers, particularly when you consider that it is a lesson that the elite of this country have taken to heart, not that of the proselytizers.

      It’s always a good thing to be a little prepared and know exactly how you’re bosses think and feel.

  26. Hugh

    Couldn’t resist. One other Harry Lime/Jamie Dimon line:

    Harry Lime: Nobody thinks in terms of human beings. Governments don’t. Why should we? They talk about the people and the proletariat, I talk about the suckers and the mugs – it’s the same thing. They have their five-year plans, so have I.

    1. FatCat

      Thank you, Hugh. You stated my case very well. I shall see to it that you become chain-gang foreman in my 1000 year economic plan.


  27. Psychoanalystus

    Ironically, the banner at the top of this page is pushing JP Morgan Chase’s “Ink” credit card.

    How about we all apply for the Ink card, max out, and then immediately default. Give this Jamie Demon piece of shit a taste of his own medicine.


  28. dameocrat

    Why should they pretend, they are protected by both parties and you will not attack those parties, because one is supposedly a lesser evil even though those democrats actually deny us a choice of voting for someone better.

  29. Nick Valvo

    Nevertheless, the Dimon moral calculus is fascinating. If foreclosures are kind, is it even kinder to restore debtors’ prisons? After all, those people who lose their homes would be assured of getting shelter.

    FYI Yves: debtors usually had to pay for their accommodations in debt prison, actually.

    1. ScottS

      Please tell me the money to pay their stay in debtors’ prison was lent to them. Let’s go for the irony triple word score.

      1. skippy

        If memory serves yes, and to this date many sentences pasted down (traffic, owed state fees, etc) are calculated by total minus daily rates (freedom does have a dollar value, lol), for those with out means. Hence the propensity of letting small offenders walk, till it became a for profit industry with tax payer capital out lays, once built is privatized, selling point tax payer freedom, or just submit IPO to the Federal complex . See the genius in the formula…muhahahaha!

        Skippy…it never left, just re-branded.

  30. F. Beard

    Banks lend money they don’t have for interest that does not exist. Anyone see a problem with that?

    1. F. Beard

      Nah. I didn’t think so. That thieving tradition is so old that it has gained “respectability”.

      1. Susan Truxes

        If the banks, the Federal Reserve system itself, are nationalized – which looks inevitable given that they are already so indebted to the taxpayer they can never pay off their debt – then does it logically follow that future money loaned to every borrower is actual money? George Schulz used to say that only trust was the coin of the realm. And we as a nation have a pact in our citizenship. So if we agree on what money is and what interest rates should be does it make it all make enough sense to go forward? Certainly one thing money is not is a form of extortion whereby if you do not pay up you are ruined. Because money facilitates growth and well being. So then foreclosure – being the greatest extortion of all – would become counterproductive. In this world even Jamie would not be ruined.

        1. F. Beard

          If the banks, the Federal Reserve system itself, are nationalized – which looks inevitable given that they are already so indebted to the taxpayer they can never pay off their debt – then does it logically follow that future money loaned to every borrower is actual money? Susan Truxes

          Government itself should never lend or borrow money; it should only spend and tax and in that order too since taxpayers must first have something to pay their taxes with.

          George Schulz used to say that only trust was the coin of the realm. Susan Truxes

          I trust that if I don’t pay my taxes then I will suffer for it. That is the true backing of government money. As for private monies, the trust is that the rule of law shall prevail wrt fraud and insolvency.

          And we as a nation have a pact in our citizenship. So if we agree on what money is and what interest rates should be does it make it all make enough sense to go forward? Susan T.

          Who knows what interest rates should be? Or even if borrowing is necessary for investment? That’s why we need liberty in private money creation.

          Certainly one thing money is not is a form of extortion whereby if you do not pay up you are ruined. Susan T

          Currently, money is a form of extortion – borrow or be priced out of the market by those who do.

          Because money facilitates growth and well being. So then foreclosure – being the greatest extortion of all – would become counterproductive. Susan T

          Without the government enforced counterfeiting cartel then how much borrowing would actually occur? Thus foreclosure might be a mostly mute issue.

  31. brighterwhitelight

    everything jamie dimon says from behind the curtain, like everything all these f’ in ugly greedy liar lord consumer/gluttons say-
    Its all clearly propaganda. Still, I am as fearless as I was at 19.
    And nothing they do is inherently real.
    So we wait for them to continue saying nonsense and people to continue finding truth, as they always do.

    Simply, the propaganda machine doesn’t work. It was broken the moment it was conceived of mal-intent.
    If anything, its entertaining to watch them burn the “resources” they have left to try to perpetuate lies and deceit that was always known.
    First things first. You watch the actions of your opponent.
    In their meager defensiveness, their weakness is revealed. ( it takes nothing but the truth to win) poor snot nosed jamie demon and all his cronies, passionately lying thinking their effective.
    Clearly (as indicated by defensive behavior) they understand who has the power and act as though they have something to hide.
    In hand to hand combat, I would grab him by the neck and squeeze.
    Nothing he said about god or fake numbers would stop me from slowly and luxuriously bringing him to his knees. Physically. In reality.
    Signed, a young AmErIcAn. (and guess what? Theres A WHOLE LOT MORE OF WHERE THAT CAME FROM)
    Signed Sincerely,
    A better faster breed.

  32. M*Pgh

    At the risk of sounding ad hominem, why would anyone listen to anything Jamie Dimon has to say? Doesn’t his stewardship of Washington Mutual make him the John Bolton of financial affairs? The lack of memory in this country is really depressing and appalling at the same time.

    1. anonymouz grizzard


      Jimmy Dimon is the man who saved wall street, by bravely steering the ship of JP Morgan away from the evil CDO market just before it crashed! what a genius! what brilliance ! his risk controls were so awesome! his kung fu was so strong! AFTER ALL, HE KNEW HOW MUCH PHONES COST IN LONDON. CAN YOU SAY THAT ABOUT JOHN THAIN OR JIMMY CAYNE? I DON’T THINK SO.

      how can anyone paint the picture differently?

  33. Random Blowhard

    Those who dare to question their TBTF masters will be fed feet first into a wood chipper as punishment for their blasphemy.


  34. anonymouz grizzard

    “wallet relief. that’s what being mugged is”

    “obesity relif. that’s what cancer is”

    “white blood cell relief. that’s what AIDS is”

    “skin relief. that’s what being on fire is”

    “anal relief. that’s what prison rape is”

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