WASHINGTON, DC – For the first time, the executives of America’s six largest banks appeared together on Wednesday before the Senate Banking Committee, chaired by Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown.
What you need to know
- The CEOs of the six largest banks in the US faced senators on Wednesday
- Sherrod Brown, Senator from Ohio, chairs the committee that held the hearing
- Brown, a longtime critic of Wall Street, said banks were busy
- Senators from both parties criticized the executives
“Under the current system, no matter what happens to the workers, Wall Street profits because those profits are now at the expense of the workers,” Brown, a Democrat and longtime critic of Wall Street, said during his opening address.
The CEOs of JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citi, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley initially praised themselves for their response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Although the process was not perfect, we, the government and others joined forces to do what needed to be done,” said Wells Fargo leader Charles Scharf.
But the senators had more difficult questions for the powerful bankers.
Brown and other Democrats criticized them for drawing millions of dollars in salaries while so many Americans suffered from them over the past year.
“So help me understand that. How did we get here, where CEOs make 900 times as much as some of their employees? “Brown asked JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon.
“My compensation is set by the board of directors,” answered Dimon. “They look like several factors, and so it happens.”
Republicans had a different focus: the growing trend for corporations to take sides in divisive political and cultural debates.
“I am concerned about increasing pressure on banks to go ‘awake’ and to appease the attacks of the far left on capitalism,” said Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania).
The hearing didn’t move the needle much on policy change, but all CEOs discussed how their companies are trying to fight climate change and improve diversity.
“We’re doing a good job,” said Dimon. “We can always do more. We can acknowledge that there are some issues that need to be addressed and I think we are all trying to get it right. “
Critics like Brown were skeptical, saying banks were busy.
“Wall Street is getting second chance at a time,” Brown said. “Most workers don’t even get one.”
While this was the first such hearing it will not be the last.
Brown wants the CEOs to come back next year, and the group will testify to the House Financial Services Committee Thursday.