Fear jolted Jamie Dimon awake in the dark morning hours of March 5.
U.S. coronavirus cases numbered only around a hundred, but markets were flashing warning signs. It was 4 a.m., and the JPMorgan Chase & Co. chief executive dialed up his top lieutenants to deliver a message that couldn’t wait: The economy is in trouble.
Mr. Dimon hung up the phone and lay down on the couch to read the morning papers. He felt a rip in his chest. He sat up with a gasp and called his doctor. “Jamie, take a cab,” the doctor told him. “You don’t have time for an ambulance.”
Hours later, Mr. Dimon was clinging to life, surgeons perched above his chest repairing a gash in the artery that delivers blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
“I knew I might not make it,” Mr. Dimon told The Wall Street Journal in his first interview about the aortic tear. The CEO’s near-death experience came as the U.S. economy was hurtling toward its own crisis. The twin emergencies would test JPMorgan’s foundations even more severely than the 2008 financial crisis.
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