Jamie Dimon, the long-serving JPMorgan Chase CEO and chairman, sees strong growth ahead for the world’s biggest economy, thanks to the U.S. government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic that has left many consumers flush with savings, according to his annual shareholder letter.
“I have little doubt that with excess savings, new stimulus savings, huge deficit spending, more QE, a new potential infrastructure bill, a successful vaccine and euphoria around the end of the pandemic, the U.S. economy will likely boom,” Dimon said in the letter. “This boom could easily run into 2023 because all the spending could extend well into 2023.”
Dimon, who managed JPMorgan through the 2008 financial crisis, helping create the biggest U.S. bank by assets, pointed out that the magnitude of government spending during the pandemic far exceeds the response to that previous crisis. The longer-term impact of the reopening boom won’t be known until years into the future, he said, because it will take time to ascertain the quality of government spending, including President Joe Biden’s proposed $2 trillion infrastructure bill.
“Spent wisely, it will create more economic opportunity for everyone,” he said.
Dimon, 65, weighed in on a range of topics familiar to watchers of the country’s most prominent banker: He promoted JPMorgan’s efforts to create economic opportunities for Americans who have been left behind, highlighted threats to U.S. banks’ dominance from fintech and Big Tech players, and opined on public policy and the role of corporations to help bring about change.
While Dimon called stock market valuations “quite high,” he said that a multi-year boom may justify current levels, because markets are pricing in economic growth and excess savings that make their way into equities.
While he is bullish for the economy’s immediate future, there are serious challenges ahead for the U.S., Dimon said. The country has been tested before, through conflicts starting with the Civil War, the Great Depression and the societal upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s, he said.
“In each case, America’s might and resiliency strengthened our position in the world, particularly in relation to our major international competitors,” Dimon said. “This time may be different.”
The past year highlighted challenges for U.S. institutions, elected officials and families, as rivals see a “nation torn and crippled by politics, as well as racial and income inequality — and a country unable to coordinate government policies (fiscal, monetary, industrial, regulatory) in any coherent way to accomplish national goals.”
The country ultimately needs to “move beyond our differences and self-interest and act for the greater good,” Dimon said. “The good news is that this is fixable.”
He also addressed inequality in the education system, "terrible" infrastructure and "poorly designed" social safety nets.
"It is hard to look at these issues in their totality and not conclude that they have a significant negative effect on the great American economic engine," Dimon said.