In an annual letter to shareholders, Dimon said, “As a nation, we were clearly not equipped for this global pandemic, and the consequences have been devastating.”
Dimon predicted a “bad recession” as the fallout. The worst-case scenario could see unemployment as high as 14% and gross domestic product plunging at a 35% annual rate in the second quarter, he warned.
Even then, the bank — the largest by assets in the nation — still plans to lend an additional $150 billion to customers, Dimon told shareholders.
Without naming President Donald Trump or other leaders, Dimon complained that the “current pandemic is only one example of the bad planning and management that have hurt our country.” He pointed to “inner city schools” that “don’t graduate half of their students,” and a health care system that is “increasingly costly with many of our citizens lacking any access.” Dimon also pointed out that America’s “social safety nets are poorly designed” and the “share of wages for the bottom 30% of Americans has effectively been going down.”
Dimon noted the “inclination of some ... to finger-point and look for blame. I hope we can avoid that.” He added: “We need to demand more of ourselves and our leaders if we want to prevent or mitigate these disasters.”
Dimon held out hope for the future.
The “country was not adequately prepared for this pandemic — however, we can and should be more prepared for what comes next,” he said. “Done right, a disciplined transition would maximize the health of Americans and minimize the time, extent and suffering caused by the economic downturn.”
He added: “I am hoping that civility, humanity, empathy and the goal of improving America will break through. We have the resources to emerge from this crisis as a stronger country,”
The COVID-19 crisis is “forcing us to work together ... and reminding us that we all live on one planet,” he wrote. “E Pluribus Unum.”
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