Stimulus measures should focus on economic recovery: Deloitte chief economist
JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Jamie Dimon said U.S. lawmakers are failing the country in their inability to reach a compromise on fiscal stimulus.
“We have this big debate: Is it US$2.2 trillion, US$1.5 trillion? You’ve got to be kidding me,” Dimon, the chief executive officer of the biggest U.S. bank, said at a virtual New York Times conference Wednesday. “Just split the baby and move on. This is childish behaviour on the part of our politicians.”
Talks over additional stimulus have been stalled for months over the size and makeup of a package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to resume talks, while McConnell reiterated his support for a bill of about $500 billion.
A stimulus package is needed as a bridge for the economy as the world waits for vaccines to be widely distributed next year, Dimon said, adding that there is “deep, deep frustration” across the country, particularly among low-income groups that have been hit hardest by rising unemployment. The CEO said he sees valid arguments on both sides, but that a compromise should be attainable. A lack of stimulus reduces the nation’s prospects of having a good economic outcome, he said.
“There’s a big part of our country which is really struggling,” Dimon said. “That’s what we should be focusing on. It has zero to do with Democrats and Republicans. It’s got to do with helping those people get through the toughest part of Covid, and we’re not through with it yet.”
Dimon brushed off concerns that policy makers may be inadvertently fueling so-called zombie firms -- unproductive companies that have gained virtually unfettered access to credit markets.
“We need to get through the problem,” Dimon said. “Who’s going to sit down and say, ‘Well these won’t survive and these will?’ We don’t have time to do that.”
Dimon, 64, said he has never coveted the job of Treasury secretary and will help whoever fills that position. The longest-serving major bank CEO, he has been leading JPMorgan for almost 15 years.
Companies will probably reduce the number of seats they keep in office buildings by 30 per cent as more employees embrace flexible work arrangements, rotating between commuting into towers and working from home, Dimon predicted. He said he doesn’t think business travel will slip as much as some forecasts because travel may become a way for firms to gain a competitive advantage.
“If I’m the gung-ho person, I want to get the business, taking that trip may be much different than saying I’ll meet you in a Zoom,” Dimon said. “I think people like me will travel as much and Zoom more.”