Jamie Dimon, who has been at JPMorgan Chase since 2005 and led the big Wall Street firm masterfully through the great financial crisis, is normally pretty measured in his economic pronouncements, as befitting the chief executive of a nearly $400 billion company and the nation’s largest bank. But sometimes even disciplined leaders go off-script, and even get a little apocalyptic, as Dimon did this week at a research analyst conference when he was asked about the Federal Reserve’s ability to tame inflation.
At the JPMorgan Chase investors conference the week before, Dimon had been slightly more subdued, referring to the coming economic troubles as “big storm clouds.” Somehow, in the space of a few days, the storm became a hurricane. “Everyone thinks the Fed can handle this,” Dimon said. “That hurricane is right out there down the road coming our way. We just don’t know if it’s a minor one or Superstorm Sandy, or Andrew or something like that, and you better brace yourself.” In any event, JPMorgan Chase’s crack communications team said Jamie’s comments at the investor conference were consistent with what he said at the investor day the week before. These are not the droids you’re looking for.
But if Jamie is right, and an “economic hurricane” is on the way, that’s not going to be pleasant and will mean that the Federal Reserve failed to navigate a soft-landing after nearly 13 years of the central bank’s easy money policies that basically inflated one asset bubble after another across the economic spectrum. Even as pessimistic as I have been, I don’t think I would have described what’s in store for us as an “economic hurricane.” I hope Jamie is wrong, but if he’s right, then sheesh, the situation could be very bad, obviously.