Elliott Management's Paul Singer isn't shy about expressing himself or picking fights, and he managed to do both pretty quickly during the opening session of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Singer and JPMorgan Chase chief Jamie Dimon exchanged some sharp words during a panel on big banks. Singer complained that banks made "completely opaque" disclosures that made it difficult to determine which were "actually risky or sound." He added that he feared that banks did not always collateralize their derivatives positions.
When Dimon said JPMorgan did so for all "major" clients, Singer shot back, "Well, we're a minor client then."
Dimon could give as good as he got, however. He all but called Singer a hypocrite on matters of transparency, noting, "with all due respect, hedge funds are pretty opaque, too." Not that he was giving ground on the opacity issue, telling Singer, "our 10K is 400 pages long. What would you like to know?"
Singer eventually relented some, calling JPMorgan one of the most respected financial institutions in the world. "It is not size that provides systemic risk, it's leverage, opacity, accounting standards."