BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Jamie Dimon, though never one to mince words, was in rare form Monday.
During an onstage interview at the Milken Institute Global Conference, the JPMorgan Chase CEO made colorful remarks on a range of topics that went well beyond banking.
Dimon, 61, is three years removed from a throat cancer diagnosis, and two and a half years past being declared cancer-free. Late last year, he was rumored to be a candidate for Treasury secretary in the Trump administration, a job that ultimately went to Steven Mnuchin.
On Monday, Dimon opined about popular anger at the nation’s elites, the Trump administration’s economic policy agenda, his view that regulation is stifling the economy, the role that technology has played in improving people’s lives, and the future of China.
Below is a selection of his most quotable comments.
On populist anger. Dimon ticked through a series of big problems facing the United States — including stagnant wages, poor educational outcomes and opioid addiction — before saying, “It’s understandable why people are kind of pissed off.”
He laid blame at the feet of the nation’s elites, including many of the people who were gathered at the Beverly Hilton to hear him speak, arguing that better policy solutions are needed.
“It’s not secular stagnation. It’s not because it had to be that way,” he said “It’s stupidity. It’s bad public policy.”
On the Trump administration. Dimon said that he was not a supporter of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, but he voiced strong support for the administration’s economic policies.
Specifically, he praised the administration’s emphasis on corporate tax reform, infrastructure spending and deregulation.
“I think we can grow 3%. And I think the agenda is spot-on right,” he said.
On regulation. Dimon argued that the banking industry is not the only part of the U.S. economy that is suffering from too much regulation.
“No one’s going to go back to the bad old days,” he said, referring to the era before pollution was regulated. “But some of these rules and regulations — I mean, honestly they’re sickening. They’re stupid.”
Turning to a longtime pet issue, Dimon criticized financial regulators for their post-crisis approach to mortgage regulation, saying that many potential borrowers have been locked out of the housing market.
“They’re not hurting JPMorgan Chase or Jamie Dimon,” he said. “They’re hurting our citizens by not dealing with these issues.”
On technology. Dimon praised technological change while criticizing how policymakers have responded to the rapid innovation.
“Technology is the best thing that ever happened to mankind,” he said. “I mean, you all would be living in tents hunting buffalo and dying at 35 if it weren’t for technology. OK? Your kids are going to live to 100.”
On China’s future. At one point during the interview, Dimon was discussing the importance, from a business standpoint, of preparing for all contingencies.
As one example, he pointed to China, a nation in which JPMorgan Chase has substantial operations. Dimon said that he expects the world’s most populous country to continue its rapid economic growth, but added that he has to prepare for the worst-case scenario.
“They’ve kicked out all foreigners twice in their history,” Dimon said. “They might do it again. If you’re a shareholder of JPMorgan Chase, I just want to tell you, we’ll be fine. It’ll hurt. It won’t be a good year. But we’ll make money, OK?”