Despite the current uncertain economic environment, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is still optimistic about the American consumer.
“The consumer is still strong,” he told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Tuesday in an interview on “Mornings with Maria.” “Their balance sheets are in good shape. They’re spending 10% more than pre-COVID. They have more in their checking account companies that are in good shape, and that’s driving a strong economy.”
The remark came in response to a question Bartiromo asked him about his economic outlook, referencing comments he previously made in April in a shareholder letter and in October at a conference. He said he has “been very consistent.”
Dimon said there were uncertainties currently, as well as back in April and October. The level of uncertainty is “heightened,” he added, pointing to numerous factors.
“It’s heightened because of Russia, Ukraine, oil, energy, food, quantitative tightening,” he told Bartiromo. “Is it going to be enough to raise rates to 5%? And this is having a huge effect on smaller countries, poor nations, those who are reliant on importing oil and gas.”
He said he thought those uncertainties “may very well mitigate,” resulting in a “kind of Goldilocks mild recession.”
“But they may not,” he continued. “So, I’m still on the cautious side of this one.”
His statement about raising rates was a reference to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s hiking of interest rates in an effort to lower inflation.
The central bank increased them multiple times in 2022, including four back-to-back 75-basis-point hikes and, most recently, a 50-basis-point lift. In the minutes of the Fed’s December meeting, policymakers indicated they project rates could go up to 5.1% in 2023, FOX Business previously reported.
Bartiromo suggested Dimon’s comments were “much more positive” than his October remarks, when he used the word “hurricane” while discussing his economic outlook.
“I shouldn’t ever use the word hurricane, but I said it was, there were storm clouds which may mitigate,” he said in the interview aired Tuesday. “And people say ‘he doesn’t think it’s a big deal.’ And I said, ‘No, those storm clouds could be a hurricane.’”
He said it could “be nothing” or “could be bad,” adding that he was not predicting either one.
“I’m simply saying be a little prepared for both of them,” Dimon said. “The early storm clouds hit, which is inflation. Stock market down 20%. So we were hit by a bit of a storm already. IPO market closed down, high yield market for a while closed down.”
While inflation measured by the consumer price index did cool a bit in November, it remains near painfully high levels, as earlier reported by FOX Business. In November, it went up 0.1% from the prior month and 7.1% year-over-year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is slated to release the CPI data for December later this week.
FOX Business’ Megan Henney contributed to this report.