So now we have evidence that Goldman Sach's Lloyd Blankfein and JPMorgan Chase's Jamie Dimon are the rock-star CEOs in financial services. Two days after Goldman announced blowout quarterly profits, JPMorgan soundly beat the Street today.
Investors predicted it. JPM's stock is flat today, trading around $36--that's evidence enough. But one thing few investors knew is that Dimon spent a month, until July 2, in Asia--confident enough, obviously, to take the time away with his wife and three daughters along for the ride.
This trip (which included Japan, China, Thailand, and India) wasn't exactly hush-hush. Dimon was working furiously--meeting with employees, clients, government officials and the press in key markets--and in unrelenting contact with his execs the whole time. But his Asian journey was also not something the company advertised. And Dimon turned down our request to talk to him on the ground.
In lieu of Dimon's Asia report, I'll share with you another viewpoint that's equally good. It was coincidence last Thursday when I got an email, here on Postcards, from Jing Ulrich, the managing director and chairman of China Equities. Ulrich happened to be in New York and hoped to meet. We got together yesterday.
"The single biggest concern is whether there's an asset bubble in China," she told me, referring to what she's been hearing since she arrived in the U.S. a couple of days after Dimon. Indeed, the consumer is buoyant. Car sales are up 48% over last year. New loans have surged 360%. Home sales have boomed to record levels.
Late last night New York time, China’s second-quarter GDP was released: Growth improved to 7.9% year over year, from a 6.1% gain in the first quarter.
How can China keep this up?
"That's a typical reaction," Ulrich said to me yesterday when I asked the question. She went on to diss the doomsayers who have predicted China's fall time and time again.
China's biggest problem, which ignited the government's aggressive stimulus program, has been a drop in exports. While a return to pre-crisis trade levels doesn't look imminent, says Ulrich, the declines appear to have stabilized.
Ulrich, who hosted 1,000 investors at JPMorgan's annual China Conference last month and had Dimon as the keynote speaker, insists: "The trajectory will continue to be up."