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Jamie Dimon: “Too Early to Say…”

Posted by Larry Doyle on July 19, 2010 10:08 AM |

Bank CEOs tend to choose their words very carefully. On one hand, these senior executives do not want to appear overly optimistic and send a message to the marketplace that may be viewed as overly pumping their business and, in turn, their stock valuation. Similarly, the leaders of our financial institutions are never inclined to be excessively pessimistic thereby scaring clients, investors, and consumers. What is the result? Typically, we hear bank executives try a slightly upbeat but evasive enough script in which we truly need to look through the message to get the real meaning.

How often did we hear from bank executives throughout 2008 and 2009 that our economy had seen the worst and was turning the corner?  I referenced this style and these comments from Wall Street titans in my commentary from November 12, 2008, The Wall Street Model Is Broken…and Won’t Soon be Fixed! I wrote:

Despite billions and now trillions of dollars in capital injections and equity investments made by our government, private equity, and sovereign wealth funds, our economic turmoil is a long way from being over. I do find it interesting that despite numerous Wall Street titans having indicated to us at different points over the last year that we were in the 7th inning of this fiasco, now a recurring theme is that we should not expect any real economic recovery until 2010.

Well, last I checked, it is July 2010 on the calendar. So where is our recovery? Let’s see what the lead bank executive in our nation, if not the world, that being Jamie Dimon has to say on the health of the American consumer and, in turn, our economy. In this morning’s Wall Street Journal commentary, Profits up but Consumers Struggle, Dimon offers his assessment of the American consumer:

“…Chief Executive Jamie Dimon was less than ebullient, saying it’s still “too early to say how much improvement we will see from here,” regarding consumer trends.

Not exactly a resounding vote of confidence and enthusisasm from Mr. Dimon. Deciphering and translating Dimon’s comment, I take it as a decidedly bearish outlook on the American consumer.


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