JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon warned about the national debt, expressing concern that the federal government’s obligations will eventually create a financial meltdown even as markets exhibit apathy toward the problem in the near term.
Dimon, widely regarded as one of the most influential executives on Wall Street, remarked during an interview with Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo that pension plans would “have to sell” after the failure of securities issued by the Treasury Department to finance deficit spending.
“It is so potentially dangerous we shouldn’t get anywhere near it,” he said. “And after all the shenanigans of politics, we’re going to have to fix this. I think it’s very bad for the nation to constantly be looking at this type of thing.”
The national debt is nearing $31.5 trillion even as maintenance costs soar due to the present rise in interest rates. An analysis from economists at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School recently found that a 30% decrease in spending or a 40% increase in taxation would be necessary to handle current deficit spending and future obligations. Republican and Democratic administrations alike have overseen surges in debt over the past several decades.
Republican lawmakers recently struck a deal with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) under which the party’s new majority will introduce a budget that refrains from increasing the debt ceiling, an artificial limit on federal obligations imposed by Congress. Dimon said that he understands the lawmakers’ desire to end the provision but said that officials have no choice besides deficit spending as expenses for social programs balloon over the next decade. Social Security, Medicare, and other health programs constituted 46% of the federal budget during the last fiscal year, according to data from the Treasury Department.
Bartiromo and Dimon also discussed the general level of indebtedness among consumers and businesses. The total level of consumer loans increased from $1.5 trillion at the beginning of President Joe Biden’s tenure to $1.8 trillion as of two months ago, according to data from the Federal Reserve. The personal savings rate has dropped from 20% to less than 3% over the same period, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, marking a significant decline from rates witnessed before the lockdown-induced recession.
Dimon said that “strong” consumer sentiment coupled with rational policy prescriptions from the new Congress could help the economy expand by 3% after a year of lackluster growth that saw two quarterly contractions. Among other policies, Dimon called for reforms to the regulatory system that presently slow “the formation of business,” support for domestic energy companies seeking to construct new pipelines, and initiatives that “stop illegal immigration.”
Economists differ on whether the United States will experience a recession in the coming months. Bank of America Chief Investment Strategist Michael Hartnett said in a report that a recession would strike in the first half of the year before markets attain a “much more solid footing,” while an outlook from Goldman Sachs Chief Economist Jan Hatzius noted that analysts at the company believe the economy will “stick a soft landing.”