JP Morgan CEO: Donald Trump’s Economic ‘Sausage-Making’ Is About to Start
The CEO of J.P. Morgan has recently become a sort of Wall Street ambassador to Donald Trump: Jamie Dimon was offered, but declined, his own White House Cabinet job, and the banker’s annual letter to shareholders last week read like an advice manual for the President.
So when Dimon appeared on the J.P. Morgan earnings call Thursday morning to discuss the bank’s first-quarter results, Wall Street analysts naturally treated it as an opportunity to ask the oracle to prognosticate about the next chapter of Trump’s presidency.
The bank’s earnings, after all, showed just how big a beneficiary J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) has been of the “Trump Bump,” which has not only propelled J.P. Morgan’s stock price 21% higher since the election, but also lifted the company’s markets trading revenues 14% in the first quarter compared to the prior year. That helped the bank boost total revenue for the period by 6%, above analysts’ expectations, to $24.7 billion, while its profits rose 17%, to $6.4 billion.
The question for J.P Morgan now, and the one on investors’ minds, is whether the President’s promised economic reforms, which have driven the market’s rally, will kick in soon enough to sustain it—especially given that Trump keeps pushing back the timeline for his highly anticipated tax reform plan.
“I don’t want to put odds on it,” Dimon said to reporters on the call Thursday. But though the administration’s recent failure to pass its health care bill has made investors more skittish, Dimon later predicted that better days are ahead for Trump’s presidency. In fact, the CEO expects the real progress to start as early as later this month, when Trump marks his first 100 days in the White House.
“You should all expect that when you have a new President and he gets going, the nine months after the 100 days is going to be a sausage-making period,” Dimon told analysts during the earnings call. “There will be ups and downs, wins and losses, stuff like that. But it is a pro-growth agenda—tax, infrastructure, regulatory reform—and that is a good thing, all things being equal, and we think if that took place it would help all Americans.”
Still, Dimon hinted that investors should brace themselves for this next phase, as the Trump Bump is likely to give way to general market bumpiness when more surprises and upsets inevitably emerge from Washington. “It’s not expected to be smooth sailing, that would just be silly,” he warned.
Overall, though, Dimon seems content with the state of the Trump administration. Asked about Trump’s plans to fill the remaining vacant positions on the Federal Reserve Board, Dimon even went so far as to compliment members of the Trump administration who hail from J.P. Morgan’s arch rival, Goldman Sachs (GS). “I think Gary Cohn and Steven Mnuchin are doing the right thing,” Dimon said, speaking of Trump’s chief economic advisor and Treasury secretary, respectively. “They want to find the right people for those jobs. I gather they are talking to lots of people.”
Dimon made clear, however, that he himself, who had been recently recruited for the Treasury post, was not one of the potential candidates: “I’m not interested,” he joked.