You may have heard the rant about Washington’s unseriousness about economic growth that JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon delivered on an earnings call the other day. In case you missed it, here it is (with some key bits marked in bold):
Since the Great Recession, which is now 8 years old, we’ve been growing at 1.5 to 2 percent in spite of stupidity and political gridlock. Because the American business sector is powerful and strong, and is going to grow regardless of — people wake up in the morning, they want to feed their kids, they want to buy a home, they want to do things, the same with American businesses — what I’m saying is it would be much stronger growth had we made intelligent decisions and were there not gridlock.
And thank you for pointing it out because I’m going to be a broken record until this gets done. We are unable to build bridges, we’re unable to build airports, our inner city school kids are not graduating.
I was just in France, I was recently in Argentina, I was in Israel, I was in Ireland. We met with the prime minister of India and China. It’s amazing to me that every single one of those countries understands that practical policies to promote business and growth is good for the average citizens of those countries, for jobs and wages, and that somehow this great American free enterprise system, we no longer get it.
Corporate taxation is critical to that, by the way. We’ve been driving capital earnings overseas, which is why there’s $2 trillion overseas benefiting all these other countries and stuff like that. So if we don’t get our act together — we can still grow.
It’s unfortunate, but it’s hurting us, it’s hurting the body politic, it’s hurting the average American that we don’t have these right policies. So no, in spite of gridlock we’ll grow at maybe 1.5 or 2 percent.
I don’t buy the argument that we’re relegated to this forever. We’re not. If this administration can make breakthroughs in taxes and infrastructure, regulatory reform —we have become one of the most bureaucratic, confusing, litigious societies on the planet.
It’s almost an embarrassment being an American citizen traveling around the world and listening to the stupid s— we have to deal with in this country. And at one point we all have to get our act together or we won’t do what we’re supposed to [do] for the average Americans.
And unfortunately people write about this saying like it’s for corporations. It’s not for corporations. Competitive taxes are important for business and business growth, which is important for jobs and wage growth. And honestly we should be ringing that alarm bell, every single one of you, every time you talk to a client.
JP Morgan was the one big bank that weathered the banking crisis of 2008 fairly well (though it participated in the bank bailout anyway because it had to). But more to the point: Dimon is a Democrat. Once upon a time Democrats talked about economic growth as a good thing, and the prime object of policy. Remember JFK’s campaign slogan? “Let’s get the country moving again.” It was an early version of “Make America great again.” There was a whole doctrine of the Kennedy years called “growth liberalism,” and Kennedy’s economic team set out for 5 or 6 percent growth or better. Dimon sounds themes here perfectly congruent with JFK’s theme that “a rising tide lifts all boats.”
Liberalism’s indifference to growth today reflects the absorption of anti-growth environmentalism, and the triumph of what James Piereson called “punitive liberalism”—not just redistribution, but the desire to get retribution against the successful.
So could Dimon win the 2020 Democratic nomination? I doubt it. It’s Bernie’s party now. Wall Street bankers need not apply. Even though Dimon could give Trump a run for his money from the right on economic matters.