Lash­ing out

JPMor­gan CEO has strong words about Washington grid­lock

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS - BY KEN SWEET

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 $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 $7.03 bil­lion, or $1.82 per share, com­pared with $6.20 bil­lion, or $1.55 a share, in the same pe­riod a year ear­lier. The re­sults beat the ex­pec­ta­tions of an­a­lysts look­ing for JPMor­gan to earn $1.59 a share, ac­cord­ing to Fac­tSet.

AP PHOTO/J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE

In this June 13, 2012, file photo, JPMor­gan Chase CEO Jamie Di­mon tes­ti­fies be­fore the Se­nate Bank­ing Com­mit­tee on Capi­tol Hill in Washington. Dur­ing calls with re­porters and Wall Street an­a­lysts on Fri­day, Di­mon vented his ir­ri­ta­tion with politi­cians and the news me­dia, ar­gu­ing that the na­tion is spend­ing too much time bick­er­ing in­stead of solv­ing real is­sues.

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