One month after Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein trolled Donald Trump, when on June 9 in only his 4th ever tweet, the chief executive sarcastically said on Twitter “Just landed from China, trying to catch up…. How did “infrastructure week” go?” moments ago Jamie Dimon, in very uncertain terms, lashed out at the gridlock in Washington in general, and – according to some – president Donald Trump in particular (despite Dimon’s subsequent clarification that that was not the case).
During today’s earnings call discussing JPM’s Q2 beat, which however masked another sharp drop in the company’s trading revenue, Dimon – fresh from a work trip overseas, unloaded on everything that’s holding U.S. businesses back.
“It’s almost an embarrassment be an American citizen traveling around the world and listening to the stupid shit we have to deal with in this country and at one point we have to get our act together. We won’t do what were supposed to for the average American.”
He continued: “since the Great Recession, which is now 8 years old, we’ve been growing at 1.5 to 2 percent in spite of stupidity and political gridlock, because the American business sector is powerful and strong. What I’m saying is that it would be much stronger growth if there were more intelligent decisions and less gridlock.”
Dimon’s outburst was prompted by a Wall Street analyst who asked if clients were beginning to worry about D.C. dysfunction and a lack of progress. Dimon countered by saying that the economy has grown despite years of bad policy, and that it would continue to grow regardless of the US political climate.
In an earlier call, Dimon said the media should focus on the major issues the nation faces rather than the vagaries of the firm’s Wall Street trading businesses: “the USA has to start to focus on policy which is good for all Americans and that is regulation, tax, education, we have to get those things done.”
Dimon has become a vocal critic of the US economic and social situation, devoting an entire section of his April annual letter to the problems in the US, saying “Something is Wrong’ with America” and offering several ideas of what needs to be fixed.
Of course, this being Jamie, he took advantage of the shocking moment to tell analysts and journalists to focus on the “bigger picture” instead of the decline in the company’s sales and trading results:
“Why you guys don’t write about it every day is completely beyond me. And, like, who cares about fixed income trading in the last two weeks of June? I mean seriously.”
Well, JPM shareholders for one. As for Jamie Dimon fixing the US, we would advice against holding one’s breath.
That said, Dimon was clear to point out his frustration wasn’t aimed at Trump. The JPM CEO said “gridlock in Washington isn’t likely to harm U.S. growth rates because they are already muted by bad policy” and in a follow up question, Dimon was asked by a reporter if he was frustrated with the Trump administration.
“No,” Dimon responded. “That was frustration with you.”
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The full transcript of the exchange in question below, courtesy of FactSet:
Q: That’s great thank you if I could follow up at the bigger picture question, Jamie you’ve been correct me if I’m wrong pretty vocal about believing the underpinnings of the economy are healthy and strong and not buying into the full secular stagnation argument. But at what point does political dysfunction and political paralysis really start to dent that confidence. And because you’ve also indicated we do need structural reform to lift trend growth whether it’s infrastructure whatever it is, can you just comment on that. And I guess as an adjunct to that, what are your conversations with clients like and is there a risk that is materializing that clients are also starting to become more frustrated with the lack of progress politically?
A: I would look at it the other way around since the great recession which is now eight years old we’ve been growing at 1.5% to 2% despite the stupidity and political gridlock. Because the American business sector is powerful and strong and is going to grow regardless if they want to feed their kids and want to buy home they want to do things the same as American businesses. What I’m saying is it would be much stronger growth had we made intelligent decisions and that gridlock. And thank you for pointing it out because I’m going to be a broken record until this gets done we are unable to build bridges unable to build airports not graduating.
I was just in France in Argentina Israel Ireland we met with the Prime Minister of India and China. It’s amazing to me that every single one of those countries understands that practical policies to promote business growth is good for the average citizens of those countries for jobs and wages and somehow this great American free enterprise system we no longer get it.
My view is corporate taxation is critical to that. By the way regarding capital brings overseas which is why the $2 trillion overseas benefiting all these other countries don’t like that so if we don’t get our act together we can still grow. It’s just unfortunate but it’s hurting us: it’s hurting the body politic, it’s hurting the average American that we don’t have these right policies. So no in spite of gridlock we will grow at 1 % or 2%.
I don’t buy the argument that we are relegated to this effort we are not this administration can make breakthroughs in taxes and infrastructure ready for reform we have become one of the most bureaucratic confusing litigious societies on the planet. It’s almost an embarrassment be an American citizen traveling around the world and listening to the stupid shit we have to deal with in this country and at one point we have to get our act together. We won’t do what were supposed to for the average American and unfortunately people write about this like corporations is not corporations competitive taxes are important for business and business growth which is important to jobs in wage growth and we should be making that along to every single one of you every time you talk to a client.