By Nicholas Dolinger
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon spoke to investors on Monday at the company’s first investor day since the outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, taking stock of the troubles that threaten the U.S. economy while also highlighting reasons for optimism under the circumstances.
In his remarks, Dimon described a “strong economy” with “big storm clouds,” noting that the weather metaphor attested to a great deal of uncertainty about the economy of the near future.
“I’m calling it storm clouds because they’re storm clouds. They may dissipate,” Dimon told investors.
Dimon has been notably reluctant to make certain forecasts about the future of the economy, but has frequently discussed possible scenarios and concerns.
Earlier this month, the JPMorgan Chase assessed the possible outcome of the Federal Reserve’s regimen of rate hikes. Dimon said there was a “one-in-three chance” that the Fed could manage a “soft landing,” delicately hiking interest rates while avoiding a recession altogether.
However, he assigned equal probability for two less desirable outcomes, saying that there was also a one-third chance of a “mild recession,” while stating that there was also “a chance it’s going to be much harder than that.”
These assessments are reflective of the concerns and fears of many experts, as uncertainty looms over a post-pandemic economy beset by inflation, supply chains concerns, and stock market downturns. Many economists view it as increasingly like that the U.S. economy is heading for a recession, as the Federal Reserve’s policy of interest rate hikes has brought fear to a troubled stock market.
Under these circumstances, a growing chorus of experts and executives are warning that a recession could be in the cards this year. Former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein has described a “very, very high” risk of a recession, while Wells Fargo head Charlie Scharf said there was “no question” that the economy would see a downturn in the near future.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently raised concerns of “stagflation,” suggesting that upcoming years could see continuing inflation, higher unemployment, and slow economic growth.
Nonetheless, Dimon attempted to instill hope and enthusiasm among investors while acknowledging their concerns about the threats to the U.S. economy and JPMorgan in particular.
Dimon has helmed JPMorgan Chase since 2005, during which time the company has reigned as the largest bank in the United States. However, this season may be one of the executive’s most challenging so far: shares in JPMorgan Chase have fallen by over 25 percent since the start of the year, compared to a decline of only about 19 percent in the broader KBW Bank Index.
The company has frustrated investors with plans to raise spending on technology and talent acquisition, currently maintaining an expense outlook of $77 billion dollars, excluding legal costs—the total of which is 8.6 percent higher than last year’s expenses.
However, Dimon’s address to investors appears to have helped somewhat—shares of JPMorgan Chase rose by 6.14 percent on Monday. Whatever challenges the future may hold for the collossal bank, Dimon is likely to enjoy some leeway to see his plans to fruition: despite the challenging year so far, the board of JP Morgan Chase has communicate that they would like him to remain CEO for five years.
Even though the executive’s spending plans remain controversial among investors, he enjoys the trust of many within the company, and maintains a rare degree of credibility among members of the banking establishment.