Healthy consumer balance sheets and rising wages are supporting the economy for now, but there are risks ahead, said Dimon, who was speaking at a financial conference in New York. Topping his concerns include central banks reining in liquidity programs via “quantitative tightening,” the Ukraine war, and governments around the world “spending like drunken sailors,” the executive said.
“To say the consumer is strong today, meaning you are going to have a booming environment for years, is a huge mistake,” he said.
The world’s largest economy has defied expectations for a downturn for the past year, including from prognosticators like Dimon, head of the biggest U.S. bank by assets. Last year, he warned that a potential economic hurricane was on the way, citing the same concerns around central banks and the Ukraine conflict. But the U.S. economy has proven resilient, leading more economists to expect that a recession might be avoided.
While JPMorgan and other banks have been “over-earning” on lending for years because of historically low default rates, strains were emerging in parts of real estate and subprime auto lending, Dimon said.
“If and when you have a recession, which you’re eventually going to have, you’ll have a real normal credit cycle,” Dimon said. “In a normal credit cycle, something always does worse than” expected, he added.
Dimon struck a note of caution throughout the panel discussion. JPMorgan is repurchasing stock at a lower level than before, a pace which might last through 2024, he said.
“I think the uncertainties out there ahead of us are still very large, and very dangerous,” Dimon said.
Among those risks is the deterioration in relations with China, he said.
“I don’t expect war in Taiwan, but this can go south,” Dimon said.
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.