If Wall Street titans can find one silver lining in this week’s market rout (the longest stretch of sustained losses for US stocks since November 2016), the stunning, seemingly unprovoked, drop should at least serve as a reminder of just how good they have had it during the Trump era. And in a call with reporters on Friday following the release of the bank’s Q3 earnings, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, the most visible and deeply entrenched of this cohort, seized the opportunity to to lavish praise upon the president, a man whom he publicly and mercilessly mocked at an event just last month.
According to Bloomberg, Dimon passed up opportunity after opportunity to criticize President Donald Trump over his trade war, his jawboning habit, and his temperamental relationship with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. Instead, he sounded uncharacteristically supportive, even going so far to try and justify Trump’s “unhinged” attacks on the Fed by claiming that he’d never heard of a president “who wanted interest rates to go up.”
Here’s more from BBG’s Max Abelson, who was listening in during the call:
He complimented the administration’s “negotiating tactic” on China and predicted a trade deal. He said the relationship between big business and the White House is “active and good.” And the same week Trump said the Fed had “gone crazy,” Dimon said he had “never seen a president who wanted interest rates to go up.”
Asked to clarify some of his warnings about the outlook for the US economy, Dimon said he meant only that he thinks interest rates will rise – not that this advance will trigger the “echoes of 1987” that some Wall Street strategists are bracing for. Though Dimon added that it would be a bad thing if rates rise because of inflationary pressures, though there are few signs that this is happening.
“If rates go up because you have inflation, that is not a plus. That is a bad thing,” Dimon said. “So far, we still have a strong economy in spite of these increasing overseas geopolitical issues bursting all over the place.”
Back in September, Dimon caused a stir when he loudly speculated during a philanthropy event – an event that was supposed to celebrate JPM’s corporate giving – that he could “beat Trump” during an election.
“I’m as tough as he is, I’m smarter than he is.” A few hours later, Dimon – once rumored to be a top pick for Treasury Secretary – backtracked completely and apologized for his impudent remarks. However, that didn’t stop Trump from firing back, calling Dimon a “nervous mess.” Dimon later admitted that his remarks were ill-considered, though he repeatedly left open the possibility that he could run for office some day.
But with the Dow up sharply on Friday, suggesting that the latest selloff was just another dip to buy, we imagine Dimon is feeling quite comfortable right where he is – especially since JPM reported Q3 earnings and revenue on Friday that easily topped forecasts, with profit surging 24% from a year ago.