Sometimes, the truth really hurts — particularly when you’ve been told over and over that you’re on the wrong course, yet you steadfastly refused to change your course. During a recent call with clients, JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon delivered a few cold, hard, inconvenient truths on the state of America.
Perhaps you’re already wondering about the qualifications of Jamie Dimon to authoritatively comment on a wide range of financial and geopolitical issues and their impact on the U.S. economy. Here ya go:
Dimon is a billionaire banker who has been the chairman and chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase – the largest of the big four American banks – since 2005. He was previously on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Dimon for years has been one of a select few in his field who doesn’t rush to cable news outlets at every opportunity, but when he talks, people who should listen do listen.
This is not to suggest everyone on Wall Street or in other circles of power agrees with Dimon’s analyses or that he’s always right; I’m simply saying his views are measured and his opinions matter.
As reported by Yahoo Finance over the weekend, Dimon didn’t pull any punches as he offered opinions on a wide range of subjects during the freewheeling conference call with the bank’s wealthiest clients.
As Yahoo noted, Dimon is always “insightful, provocative, and never boring”. He ominously warned of “storm clouds” on the horizon for the U.S. economy and predicted that the odds favor either a “harder recession” or “maybe something worse.”
It is a strong economy. Consumers’ balance sheets are in good shape. Businesses are equally in good shape. When you forecast, you have to think differently. What is out there? There are storm clouds. Rates, QT, oil, Ukraine, war, China.
If I had to put odds: soft landing 10%. Harder landing, mild recession, 20%, 30%. Harder recession, 20%, 30%. And maybe something worse at 20% to 30%. It is a bad mistake to say ‘here is my single point forecast.’
Smart approach — handicapping the odds of how the Biden economy ultimately plays out, including the ominous 20-30 percent tag on “something worse.” Noted economic wizard Joe Biden and his henchmen beg to differ, of course, continuing to insist that the economy is in excellent shape.
Dimon also commented extensively on inflation, which clueless Biden laughingly insisted stood at zero percent at the end of July.
The numbers are so distorted when you have this fiscal and monetary stimulus. Have you seen a recession where unemployment is going down? [Inflation] is around 8%. I don’t see it will dissipate that quickly. I think the Fed had 4% by the end of the year. I think that is highly unlikely.
If you ask the question, how are you doing? What are the prospects for your company? ‘Oh, pretty good.’ If you ask them about their confidence, it is low.
I think because of inflation, because of partisan politics and a lot of leftover anger from COVID-19. I wish we had the spirit that we were all here to work together but it seems we just got nastier somehow. [CEOs’] biggest complaint is they can’t hire people.
Dimon pointed to China’s investment in Africa, from natural resources to human resources as an example of what the U.S. should be doing on the energy front and beyond.
You see what China is doing in Africa and Asia. We need to do that, too. America needs to take a leadership position. People are making a mistake [with the] the America First [thinking] we’re spending too much time and money on foreign ventures that don’t make sense. If we don’t do trade with Western allies, China is going to cherry pick every nation. They’ll give them 5G equipment for cheap. They’ll negotiate deals, lend money. They are trying to do it in Latin America. Our backyard.
On China’s view of America, Dimon said:
They kind of look at America and say, ‘You have been incompetent and lazy.’ There is truth to that. We have screwed up infrastructure. We have screwed up inner-city schools.
Part of the overall problem, Dimon said, lies with the hysterical climate alarmist crowd.
We should focus on climate. The problem with that is because of high oil and gas prices, the world is turning back on their coal plants. It is dirtier. Why can’t we get it through our thick skulls, that if you want to solve climate [change], it is not against climate [change] for America to boost more oil and gas.
Noted climatologist Joe Biden, John “Existential Threat to Mankind” Kerry, Nancy “Mother Earth” Pelosi, and the Hollywood Looney Tunes crowd beg to differ. Perhaps Dimon should listen to them — instead of objectively and intelligently dealing with facts, and thinking for himself. [major sarcasm]
Finally, Dimon touched on one of my “favorite” topics: woke capitalism. Spoiler: Toss this one into the “provocative” category.
You can ignore the bad part of society. Not hire from them. Not drive through the parts of town. I think it is a mistake because our society is worse off if we don’t lift up everybody. It is far more than woke capitalism. It is a good thing to lift up our fellow citizens.
You travel the world and see things that work. Apprenticeship programs in Switzerland and Germany. If you have generations of kids 17 to 25 with 20% unemployment, you can be sure you’re going to have a social problem.
Jobs bring dignity, household formation, [and] jobs reduce crime. Everybody should try to help if they can.
Far be it from me to quibble with Jamie Dimon, but in terms of jobs bringing household formation, the reverse has been true for six decades. Statistics have consistently shown that “household formation” — nuclear families — brings work ethics and dignity to children as they grow into adulthood, hence morals, values, and jobs, all of which lead to reduced crime. Without strong father figures in place, young teens take to the streets, gangs proliferate, and violent crime explodes.
One need only look at late 1950s statistics on Chicago’s Southside, compared to 2022 for ample proof.
The bottom line:
In my not-so-humble opinion, Jamie Dimon is a quintessential example of America’s best and brightest. While I don’t always agree with his takes, two of which I identified in this article, his voice is among those I most admire; not only for his wealth of knowledge but perhaps mostly because of his objectivity and lack of hypocrisy — both of which are in short supply, these days, on both sides of the political aisle.