Thirty years from now, Jamie Dimon imagines one of his successors standing on a stage in Washington D.C., asking, “What happened?”
That’s because the current social and economic status in the U.S. is like a “slow train wreck,” JPMorgan’s CEO said during a Tuesday town hall event moderated by Yahoo’s finance editor-in-chief Andy Serwer. Leadership has failed to address a multitude of problems, from the high cost of health care to income inequality, according to Dimon — a failure he extended to himself.
“I am very sympathetic to people who are mad at the leadership of this country, because we are kind of to blame,” Dimon said. “Hopefully we’ll get smarter and act on it.”
Overall, Dimon echoed President Donald Trump’s pre-election populist rhetoric, where Trump focused in on the average American experience and a weak U.S. economy. While economists could argue that the GDP is stronger than most people realize, Dimon is convinced it could be even stronger.
The CEO, who is also an advisor on the president’s strategic and policy forum, also pointed out that the U.S. has spent trillions on war that could be invested domestically. He said that the labor force participation has dipped among the working age population, or at least for non-working males, due to education and health concerns. And the country’s high corporate tax rate is driving capital and jobs out of America.
As for the country’s infrastructure framework, it’s “embarrassing,” Dimon said, adding that America hasn’t built a major airport in over 20 years.
While Dimon believes the Trump administration is moving largely in the right direction to correct these outstanding problems, some of which have been 20 years in the making, he admitted Trump wasn’t his first choice. In past meetings with the president, Dimon said it could sometimes be difficult to interpret Trump’s meaning since he can change his mind mid-sentence.
“Mr. Trump doesn’t agree with everything he says himself,” Dimon said.
The complicated relationship Dimon has with Trump was implied in his annual letter to shareholders, which was sent ahead of his town hall appearance. Dimon never mentions Trump by name, but he does take aim at some of his administration’s policies.
Still, the overall tone of Dimon’s talk seemed hopeful.
“You might laugh a little bit but America has this incredibly resilient political system,” Dimon said, specifically looking to the Great Depression and both World Wars. “It’s been through far worse than today.”