JPMorgan chief raps D.C. gridlock
NEW YORK — After JPMorgan Chase posted a record $7 billion quarterly profit, the last thing a contentious Jamie Dimon wanted to talk about Friday were his company’s earnings.
Instead, the chief executive officer of the nation’s largest bank vented his irritation with politicians and what he called gridlock that’s preventing the economy from doing even better.
Dimon, a member of President Donald Trump’s business advisory council, has a reputation for speaking with little to no filter. He’s complained in the past that U.S. government policymakers spend too much time arguing rather than improving the economy.
The U. S. economy has been expanding at less than 2 percent a year since the recession, which is below the typical growth after an economic downturn, historically. Dimon said growth would be higher if Washington gridlock would ease.
As head of the nation’s biggest bank, Dimon has a big stake in how Washington operates and how the U.S. economy performs. And while Trump’s business advisory council cannot make policy decisions, it does have input on what the White House’s priorities should be for big companies such as JPMorgan.
Republicans who control of both houses of Congress and the White House have proposed cutting corporate income taxes, which would directly benefit JPMorgan’s bottom line, and infrastructure spending would add to
U.S. gross domestic product. There is also talk about trimming back some of the strict regulations put in place after the financial crisis that bank CEOs such as Dimon have argued are restricting the ability of banks to lend money.
Asked by a business journalist a routine question about the firm’s bond trading results after the Federal Reserve’s interest rate increase last month, Dimon called for reporters to focus less on the quarter-toquarter 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 the stuff that is holding back and hurting average Americans. Who really cares about fixedincome trading in the last two weeks of June, I mean seriously?” he said.
While the bank overall has benefited from the Fed’s decision and has been making more loans across all its businesses, this quarter’s quiet stock and bond markets depressed the bank’s trading revenue by 17 percent. Fixedincome trading revenue was down 19 percent from last year, while stock trading was mostly flat.
Even so, the bank reported a profit of $7.03 billion, or $1.82 per share, an improvement from a profit $6.20 billion, or $1.55 a share, a year ago. The results beat analysts’ expectations.
JPMorgan’s investment and corporate banking division earned $2.71 billion compared with $2.49 billion a year earlier, and saw a 17 percent rise in investment banking fees.
Citigroup and Wells Fargo also reported their quarterly results Friday. All three reported a rise in interest income and were generally lending more across all their businesses.
Citigroup also reported a decline in trading this quarter, albeit not as big as JPMorgan. Typically less-volatile markets result in lower trading revenue for the major banks, as its traders cannot take advantage of heavy trading and bigger swings in stock and bond prices.
One area of concern, particularly for JPMorgan, is bad loans in its credit card business. The bank set aside more money this quarter to cover bad loans, mostly in its credit card division. JPMorgan executives have 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 designated to address bad loans, Dimon said: “the U.S. consumer remains healthy.”