Jamie Dimon sounds very much like President Donald Trump these days, echoing the president’s calls for relaxing financial regulation, increasing infrastructure spending, and agreeing that many Americans are justifiably frustrated about trade and globalization.
“The United States of America is a truly exceptional country,” the chairman and chief executive of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co wrote in his annual letter to shareholders.”But it is clear that something is wrong–and it’s holding us back.”
While it is hardly surprising that the head of one of the nation’s largest banks favors easing some of the post-crisis financial regulation, Dimon hit many other, less-expected Trumpian notes.
Back when the president addressed Congress in late February, he said money spent in wars abroad could have financed infrastructure projects at home. “With the $6 trillion, we could have rebuilt our country twice, and maybe even three times, if we had people who had the ability to negotiate,” Trump said.
In the shareholder letter published Tuesday, Dimon wrote: “Over the last 16 years, we have spent trillions of dollars on wars when we could have been investing that money productively. (I’m not saying that money didn’t need to be spent; but every dollar spent on battle is a dollar that can’t be put to use elsewhere.) ”
Dimon’s words about jobs, trade, and globalization could almost be lifted directly from a Trump stump speech. He writes:
Low job growth, a lack of opportunity for many, declining wages, students and low wage workers being left behind, economic and job uncertainty, high healthcare costs and growing income inequality all have created deep frustration. It is understandable why so many are angry at the leaders of America’s institutions, including businesses, schools and governments – they are right to expect us to do a better job. Additionally, this can understandably lead to disenchantment with trade, globalization and even our free enterprise system, which for so many people seems not to have worked.
More from Dimon: “The lack of economic opportunity is a moral and economic crisis that affects everyone. There are too many people who are not getting a fair chance to get ahead and move up the economic ladder.”
On the need for infrastructure investing Dimon writes:
In the early 1960s, America was considered by most to have the best infrastructure (highways, ports, water supply, electrical grid, airports, tunnels, etc.)…The United States has not built a major airport in more than 20 years. China, on the other hand, has built 75 new civilian airports in the last 10 years alone.
Dimon even seemingly gives Trump some credit for the bank’s soaring stock price, writing, “We believe the anticipated reversal of many negatives and the expectation of a more business-friendly environment, coupled with our sustained, strong business results, are among the reasons our stock price has done so well this past year.”