Jamie Dimon suggests “infantile habits” from Congress
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon criticized lawmakers for a month-long stalemate during a second round of coronavirus relief to help unemployed Americans and struggling businesses as the pandemic deepens.
“I know now that we have this big debate. Is it $ 2.2 trillion, $ 1.5 trillion?” Dimon said Wednesday at the New York Times Dealbook conference, referring to competing visions for an aid bill from Democrats and Republicans.
“You must be kidding,” Dimon said to Andrew Ross Sorkin. “I mean, just split the baby and move on. This is childish behavior from our politicians.”
Congress has not yet passed a second auxiliary bill after key parts of the first bill, the CARES bill, expired in July. While financial troubles for the unemployed and small businesses will mount as Covid-19 infections set new records across the country, leaders of both parties have not met since the November 3rd presidential election.
Dimon urged lawmakers to agree on fiscal incentives that would act as a bridge until mid-2021 when promising vaccines could be widely used.
“Thank goodness we got these two vaccines, thank goodness,” said Dimon. “Now is the time not to pretend it’s over. Let’s double up and get Covid as best we can.”
In particular, the “bottom 20%” of the workforce are in pain of job loss, unlike in previous recessions, he said. This cohort has effectively reduced the increased savings from the CARES bill and is now back to February levels, Dimon said.
“There is a large part of our country that is really struggling … that’s what we should focus on,” said Dimon. “It has nothing to do with Democrats and Republicans.”
He added, “If there is no incentive, the likelihood of a good economic outcome decreases.”
“Taxes must rise”
When asked about the possibility that President-elect Joe Biden would impose taxes on companies and people making more than $ 400,000, Dimon recognized the government’s need to generate more revenue, but said the priority was that should be to increase US economic growth.
“Yes, taxes have to go up somewhere, and I understand that perfectly,” said Dimon. “There are taxes that affect growth and taxes that don’t affect growth. So if I tax my income a little more that doesn’t affect growth, over time, taxing capital formation hurts growth.”
In the extensive interview, Dimon discussed the history of racial relations in America (“Racial inequality is terrible”); his view of Bitcoin (“I’m not really interested in Bitcoin”); Business travel in a world after Covid (“there is no way I will travel less”); and rumors that he might serve as Treasury Secretary in a Biden administration (“I never wanted the job”).
He also bluntly admitted that, despite claims to the contrary by President Trump, Biden actually won the US presidential election.
“A new president will be sworn in on January 20th,” said Dimon. “We need a peaceful transition. We had a choice. We have a new president. You should support this, whether you like it or not, because it is based on a system of faith and trust.”