Matt Lauer Asks JP Morgan Chase Bank CEO if Investment in Detroit is PR Stunt

May 21, 2014, 8:55 AM by  Allan Lengel

Today Show co-host Matt Lauer fires off a lists of negatives that Detroit has, including high unemployment, and then bluntly asks JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon if his bank's plan to invest $100 million in Detroit for economic development projects in the next five years isn't simply a public relations stunt.

"You're a numbers guy when it comes right down to it. Do you mind if I share a few numbers about Detroit? Lauer asks in an interview that aired Wednesday morning on the Today Show. 

"Nineteen billion dollars in debt, unemployment rate of about 14 percent, about a third of the population has moved out in last several decades, 40 percent of the street lights don’t work at night, 40 percent of of the buses are broken. So you really want too be in Detroit, in business with Detroit?

Dimon replies: "Yeah, I think we can make this our finest moment. Can Americans come together, business,  labor... government, come together and build something and fix the city?

"You've seen rebirths in cities all over American," Dimon says. "I think  it would be an unbelievable  thing if we can come together and rebirth here."

Last year, JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank, agreed to pay the federal government a record $13 billion. The Justice Department accused the bank of knowingly selling faulty mortgage securities that contributed to the financial crisis.

Lauer  goes on to say to Dimon: 

"It's been a bruising year or so for your company with government investigations, a $13 billion fine you were forced to pay. A  cynic might look at you Jamie and say this is a $100 million pr campaign. Would that cynic would be wrong?

Dimon replies:

"Yeah, that cynic would be wrong because we invest and develop communities around the world. And we've been doing this since our heritage started 200 years ago. So that's what banks do. They do it commercially. They do community development."

Dimon goes on to say:

"Jobs and population. If it works, you'll have a healthy and vibrant economy, jobs and population, businesses will beget home ownership, better schools, and a completely revived city." 

Lauer also talks to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who says:

"I think it's a significant start. It's a good jumpstart. With what Jamie and his team are doing, we're going to have money to loan to entrepreneurs, so we can bring not just the neighborhoods back, but the businesses back."

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