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Jamie Dimon cautions over soft landing for ‘unbelievable’ US economy

JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon said the US economy was “booming” but warned that he was “on the cautious side” of there being a soft landing.

In a wide-ranging interview on Tuesday at the Economic Club of New York, Dimon said the state of the US economy was “unbelievable” and had been “booming for a while”.

The US is predicted to grow twice as fast this year as any other G7 economy, the IMF forecast last week, thanks to resilient household spending and investment.

This has gone against fears over the past two years that the Federal Reserve’s rapid series of interest rate increases would tip the economy into a recession.

Instead, the IMF projected that the US economy would grow 2.7 per cent this year and 1.9 per cent next year, after expanding at an annual rate of 3.4 per cent in the final quarter of 2023.

“We’re in pretty good shape and so far it looks like that soft-landing type of scenario,” Dimon said. “But put me on the cautious side of that one.”

He cited a saying from his early days on Wall Street, “something like, ‘The markets will do whatever they have to do to hurt the most people.’ This may be one of those set-ups.”

Dimon, 68, who as head of the largest US bank by assets often uses his public remarks to opine on issues well beyond Wall Street, said he was surprised that geopolitical tensions had not had a bigger impact on the price of oil, which is trading at about $88 a barrel.

“I’m a little surprised that things haven’t gotten worse for oil and gas,” he said, citing risks of attacks on energy infrastructure. “It doesn’t take a lot to send oil and gas prices back to $120 or higher.”

Dimon’s stature on Wall Street has led to calls last year for him to run for president from the likes of hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman. He has resisted.

“I’ve always said I’d love to be president, but you’d have to anoint me, folks,” Dimon said, to laughter from the crowd.

He did call on more people from the business community to serve in government and also had advice for whoever would be the president next year.

“I want the next president, whoever it is, to put the other party in their cabinet,” he said. “So if it’s [Joe] Biden, he puts some Republicans in his cabinet. If it’s [Donald] Trump he puts some Democrats in his cabinet. I would like to see practitioners go back to government, like all of us — like not me, but you — go help and serve.”

Dimon also praised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is campaigning for another five-year term in office.

“Modi has done an unbelievable job in India,” Dimon said. “I know the liberal press here, they beat the hell out of him. He’s taken 400mn people out of poverty.”

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