Jamie Dimon said the U.S. is headed for the best economic growth in decades.
“We’re going to have the best growth we’ve ever had this year, I think since maybe sometime after the Great Depression,” Dimon told CNBC’s Bertha Coombs during the 40th Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. “Next year will be pretty good too.”
Dimon, the longtime CEO and chairman of JPMorgan Chase, said his confidence stems from the robust balance sheet of the American consumer. JPMorgan is the biggest U.S. bank by assets and has relationships with half of the country’s households.
“The consumer balance sheet has never been in better shape; they’re spending 25% more today than pre-Covid,” Dimon said. “Their debt-service ratio is better than it’s been since we’ve been keeping records for 50 years.”
Dimon said growth will come even as the Fed raises rates possibly more than investors expect. Goldman Sachs economists predicted four rate hikes this year and Dimon said he would be surprised if the central bank didn’t go further.
“It’s possible that inflation is worse than they think and they raise rates more than people think,” Dimon said. “I personally would be surprised if it’s just four increases.”
Dimon has expressed expectations for higher rates before. Banks tend to prosper in rising-rate environments because their lending margins expand as rates climb.
Indeed, bank stocks have surged so far this year as rates climbed. The KBW Bank Index jumped 10% last week, the best start to a year on record for the 24-company index.
However, Dimon said that while the underlying economy looks strong, stock market investors may endure a tumultuous year as the Fed goes to work.
“The market is different,” Dimon said. “We’re kind of expecting that the market will have a lot of volatility this year as rates go up and people kind of redo projections.”
“If we’re lucky, the Fed can slow things down and we’ll have what they call a `soft landing’,” Dimon added.
The bank was forced to move its annual healthcare conference to a virtual format because of the spread of the omicron variant of Covid-19.