Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of the nation’s largest bank, vented his irritation with politicians and the news media on Friday, arguing that the nation is spending too much time bickering instead of solving real issues.
His comments came during calls with reporters and Wall Street analysts to discuss JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s latest results – earnings of more than US$7-billion in the last 90 days, a record for the nation’s largest bank.
Dimon has a reputation for speaking with little to no filter, and his position means people tend to listen. His remarks are not out of tune with previous comments under both President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump, when he’s argued that U.S. government policymakers spend too much time arguing rather than improving the economy.
But Dimon’s comments were more direct and blunt this time.
The U.S. economy has been expanding at less than 2 per cent a year since the Great Recession, which is below the typical growth after an economic downturn. Dimon said that U.S. economy growth would be higher if Washington gridlock would ease.
“It’s almost an embarrassment being an American citizen travelling around the world ... listening to the stupid (expletive) we have to deal with in this country,” he said in a call. “We have to get our act together and do what were supposed to do for average Americans.”
Dimon called for reporters to focus less on the quarter-to-quarter changes in its business, and more on bigger issues like infrastructure, the opioid epidemic, taxation and jobs.
“(Reporters) should be writing a lot more about that the stuff that is holding back and hurting average Americans. Who really cares about fixed-income trading in the last two weeks of June, I mean seriously?” he said, in response to a business journalist asking about how the firm’s bond trading desks did following the Federal Reserve’s interest rate increase last month. It’s a typical question asked by the business press.
In general, JPMorgan benefited the Fed’s decision to raise rates steadily this year, reporting an 8 per cent rise in the money it collects on interest compared to a year ago. The bank has also been making more loans across all its businesses, up 4 per cent from a year earlier, which in turn has helped interest income.
JPMorgan earned a profit of US$7.03-billion, or US$1.82 per share, compared with US$6.20-billion, or US$1.55 a share, in the same period a year earlier. The results beat the expectations of analysts looking for JPMorgan to earn US$1.59 a share, according to FactSet.
The consumer banking division had a profit of US$2.22-billion compared with US$2.66-billion a year earlier. Last year’s results included a US$200-million in one-time benefits. The bank also had to set aside more money this quarter to cover bad loans, mostly in its credit card division. JPMorgan executives have previously said the bank is starting to offer and approve applications for credit cards to higher-risk borrowers that it previously would have rejected.
Despite the money set aside for bad loans, Dimon said: “the U.S. consumer remains healthy.”
Government figures released Friday showed that Americans curtailed their shopping in June, with less spending at restaurants, department stores and gasoline stations. The spending pullback came despite a healthy job market and suggests that economic growth could remain sluggish.
JPMorgan’s investment and corporate banking division had a profit of US$2.71-billion compared with US$2.49-billion a year earlier. While the bank saw a 17 per cent rise in investment banking fees, this quarter’s quiet stock and bond markets depressed the bank’s trading revenue by 17 per cent. Fixed-income trading revenue was down 19 per cent from last year, while stock trading was mostly flat.