On Friday morning, JPMorgan Chase & Co. reported some earnings. On the positive side, profits walloped the Street's expectations. But trading revenues slumped, with fixed-income down nearly 20 percent. And the bank's overall outlook dimmed.
If you weren't sure how to feel about all these the mixed messages, Jamie Dimon evidently laid down on a therapist's couch for the earnings call to deliver a stream-of-consciousness rant that might not help you understand the bank's fundamentals any better, but should provide a decent picture as to the CEO's current mental state:
We have become one of the most bureaucratic, confusing, litigious societies on the planet. It's almost an embarrassment to be an American citizen traveling around the world and listening to the stupid shit we have to deal with in this country. At one point we all have to get our act together or we won't do what we're supposed to do for average Americans. Unfortunately people write about this like it's for corporations. Competitive taxes are important for business and business growth, which is important for jobs and wage growth.
If this sounds familiar, it's because Jamie Dimon has been doing his MAGA-lite proselytizingfor a while now, though perhaps not so fulsomely. Carping about regulatory reform and corporate taxes also happens to be Dimon's new side-gig as head bigwig of the Business Roundtable, a role that seems to have gotten to his head a little bit. Curious about JPMorgan's outlook on rates? You should be leading a charge for infrastructure and education investments, you pathetic worm. Want some clarity into cost pressures on the fixed-income side, you fools, you utter fucking fools? Get off your ass and go ask a community banker about how qualified mortgage rules are stifling the American dream.
Indeed, Dimon had a word or two for those whose jobs entail writing about bond trading for a living:
The USA has to start to focus on policy which is good for all Americans and that is regulation, tax, education, we have to get those things done… You guys (journalists) should be writing a lot more about that stuff. That is holding it back and hurting the average American citizen if we don’t do it. It’s not a Republican issue, it’s not a Democrat issue..Why you guys don’t write about it every day is totally beyond me, who cares about fixed income trading in the last two weeks in June. I mean seriously?
A few months ago it might have seemed fair to call the Jamie Dimon Saves America tour a schtick. At this point it's more like a tic. Dimon is almost pathologically unable to answer any question without gesturing toward the unconscionable state of political gridlock. It's like listening to a budding undergrad Marxist for whom everything from student debt to shit cafeteria food is a product of blood-sucking capitalists. There is no question that Dimon can't answer with a BRT white paper.
Since Dimon was basically doing the earnings-call equivalent of primal scream therapy, it seems appropriate to do a little armchair psychologizing here: With Trump's election, Dimon attempted to negotiate a position of trusted advisor to the president as well as impartial, non-partisan observer interested only in the wellbeing of America. As time goes on and Trump remains Trump, the position has grown increasingly untenable. For a bank leader to appear concerned with what's best for both their bank and for America more broadly – which of course are one in the same in Dimon's mind – it would do well to call Trump out now and again.
Dimon can't do that. So instead he has to chant the same incantations – root for the pilot, it's not a Democrat or Republican issue, etc – every time he's faced with difficult questions about his relationship to the White House. At this point, though, it's become a habit. Whether the question is about fixed-income performance or what we wants for breakfast, Dimon can't stop himself from prattling on about global competitiveness and self-defeating tax regimes.
The other explanation here is a bit simpler: He's just practicing.
Jamie Dimon tells financial journalists to stop writing about finance [FastFT]
Jamie Dimon: There’s more to life than bond trading [FNL]
Jamie Dimon blows up at DC's dysfunction, says he's tired of 'listening to the stupid s---' [CNBC]