JP Morgan chief blasts US dysfunction: ‘It’s almost an embarrassment being American’


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “JP Morgan chief blasts US dysfunction: ‘It’s almost an embarrassment being American'” was written by Dominic Rushe in New York, for The Guardian on Saturday 15th July 2017 00.06 UTC

JP Morgan just had the most profitable 12 months ever for a US bank – but it wasn’t enough for Jamie Dimon, the bank’s boss.

“It’s almost an embarrassment being an American traveling around the world and listening to the stupid shit Americans have to deal with in this country,” Dimon told journalists after the bank released its latest quarterly results on Friday.

The world’s largest bank reported a profit of $7.03bn for the second quarter, 13% higher than last year. It has made $26.5bn over the past 12 months, a record profit for a US bank.

But Dimon, who last year turned down Donald Trump’s offer to become treasury secretary, seemed more concerned about low rates of growth in the US and the health of the American body politic. He blamed bad policy for “holding back and hurting the average American” and financial journalists for concentrating on the bank’s trading results when they should be focusing on policy.

“Who cares about fixed-income trading in the last two weeks of June? I mean, seriously,” Dimon said after a reporter asked about the health of the bonds markets.

“That is the weather,” he said of changes in the markets. “It goes up and down, this and that, and that’s 80% of what you guys focus on.”

Dimon said financial journalists would be better off concentrating on the “bad policies” that are hurting average Americans.

“It’s almost an embarrassment being an American traveling around the world and listening to the stupid shit Americans have to deal with,” he said. “At one point, we would have to get our act together, do what we’re supposed to do to the average American.”

Dimon, who also heads the Business Roundtable lobbying group, which has been lobbying for tax reform and more infrastructure spending, set out policy areas he would like to see addressed.

“We need infrastructure reform,” he said. “We need corporate tax reform. We need better skills and education. If we don’t focus on these things, we are hurting average Americans every day.

“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. You guys [journalists] should be writing a lot more about that stuff. That is holding it back and hurting the average American citizen if we don’t do it.

“It’s not a Republican issue, it’s not a Democratic issue. Why you guys don’t write about it every day is totally beyond me.

“I just got back from Israel, Ireland and France – three countries that deeply recognise the importance of having a business tax scheme for jobs and wage growth. We don’t have that.”

Dimon lamented US failure to build an airport in the last 10 years and the opiate addiction epidemic.

The JP Morgan chief has become increasingly outspoken on political issues since the election. In his letter to shareholders, released in April, he took some subtle – and some not so subtle – swings at the Trump administration. While Dimon clearly favours cuts to regulation, he argued: “Some regulations quite clearly create a common good (eg clean air and water).”

Dimon’s letter was written as Trump began his attempts to dismantle Barack Obama’s legacy of environmental protections.

Dimon also worried about the impact of “poorly conceived anti-trade policies” and wrote that it was “alarming” that so many talented immigrants were unable to stay in the US. “We are forcing great talent overseas by not allowing these young people to build their dreams here,” he wrote.

The bank’s shares dipped slightly after the results were released but are still up close to 33% since the election of Trump. The results came as Citigroup and Wells Fargo also released better than expected quarterly results.

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