Jamie Dimon is bullish on the U.S. economy – at least for the next few years.
In his annual shareholder letter, the long-time JPMorgan Chase chairman and CEO said he sees strong growth 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.
“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. “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 to 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. He said the longer-term impact of the reopening boom won’t be known for years 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 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 a multiyear boom may justify current levels because markets are pricing in economic growth and excess savings that make their way into equities. He said there was “some froth and speculation” in parts of the market but didn’t say where exactly.
“Conversely, in this boom scenario it’s hard to justify the price of U.S. debt (most people consider the 10-year bond as the key reference point for U.S. debt),” Dimon said. “This is because of two factors: first, the huge supply of debt that needs to be absorbed; and second, the not-unreasonable possibility that an increase in inflation will not be just temporary.”
While he is bullish for the economy’s immediate future, there are serious challenges for the U.S., Dimon said. The country has been tested before — though 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 our country’s 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.”