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Dimon faces JPMorgan shareholders; Investors are unlikely to urge ouster today

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon owned up to stock analysts and went on TV to accept blame for a $2 billion trading mistake. Next he faces shareholders, who are considerably less wealthy since the blunder was disclosed.

While Dimon may be greeted by colorful protesters and tough questions at the JPMorgan annual meeting today in Tampa, Fla., shareholders are unlikely to call for his head.

For them, facing the crisis without Dimon might be a bigger nightmare than the trading loss itself.

"When a bank is dealing with this sort of a challenge, you want someone of his caliber to shepherd it through," said longtime JPMorgan shareholder Michael Holland, chairman and founder of money manager Holland & Co.

That has not been a universal opinion since Thursday, when Dimon disclosed to analysts that the bank had lost $2 billion by making a bad bet with so-called credit derivatives.

Investors lopped almost 10 percent off JPMorgan's stock price the next day, and 3 percent more on Monday. Since Dimon made the announcement, almost $20 billion in market value has evaporated.

Over the weekend, Elizabeth Warren, architect of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and a Senate candidate from Massachusetts, called for Dimon to give up his board seat at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney, without singling out Dimon, said Washington can't prevent "bad decisions being made on Wall Street."

He pointed out that it was the bank and its shareholders, not bailout-weary taxpayers, who were suffering this time.

Meanwhile, the executive responsible for trading strategy at JPMorgan, one of the highest-ranking women on Wall Street, on Monday became the first casualty.

The bank said Ina Drew, 55, the chief investment officer for the bank and a 30-year veteran of the company, would retire and be replaced by Matt Zames, an executive in JPMorgan's investment bank.

Dimon said Drew's "vast contributions to our company should not be overshadowed by these events." He stressed that the company remains "very strong."

At today's meeting, Dimon will be talking to shareholders from a position of weakness for the first time. He has built a reputation as a cost-cutting zealot and an expert at keeping risk under control.

He led JPMorgan into a stronger position than almost any other bank after the 2008 financial crisis, which brought him more praise than at any other time in his career.

Shareholders rarely lash out against Dimon. Vikram Pandit of Citigroup and Brian Moynihan of Bank of America are not so fortunate: Shareholders at those banks take the slightest opportunity to call for them to step down.

Dimon's reputation has been severely damaged now. But shareholders still appear to be believe he should be given the chance to prove himself again.

"He's earned enough market respect to have the opportunity to correct this," said Benjamin Wallace of investment firm Grimes & Co., a longtime shareholder that sold its JPMorgan shares six months ago.

"I don't think anyone else can do a better job than him, and we would not be calling for his ouster," Wallace said.

Dimon has said the bank lost the money in a strategy to hedge against financial risk, as banks often do, not because it was trading for its own profit. Some lawmakers have cast doubt on that portrayal.

JPMorgan's disclosure has led lawmakers and critics of the banking industry to call for stricter regulation of Wall Street. Many post-crisis rules governing risk-taking by banks are still being written.

Among them is the so-called Volcker rule, which would block banks from trading for their own profit, a practice known as proprietary trading. Dimon has said the trading in question would not violate the rule.

Monday, Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, announced additional hearings on financial regulation and said he expected the JPMorgan loss to be discussed.

Not all shareholders are squarely behind Dimon. An influential union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, wants him to be stripped of his chairman's title, which he holds in addition to being CEO.

"The stakes are too high to leave Jamie Dimon unsupervised," said Gerald W. McEntee, trustee for AFSCME, which owns JPMorgan shares through its pension plan.