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Jamie Dimon says chance of a bad economy is ‘higher than other people think’

By Nicole Goodkind, CNN

New York (CNN) — JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the United States, kicked off earnings season Friday with a beat, but also a warning about geopolitical threats that could hurt the global economy.

The bank’s first-quarter revenue increased by 9% from the year before, to $41.9 billion. That’s more than analysts surveyed by FactSet had expected.

Earnings per share came in at $4.44, also higher than the $4.17 estimated by FactSet.

Still, CEO Jamie Dimon warned investors that trouble could lie ahead. “Many economic indicators continue to be favorable. However, looking ahead, we remain alert to a number of significant uncertain forces,” he wrote in a press release Friday.

Dimon cited growing geopolitical tensions and “persistent inflationary pressures, which may likely continue,” as ongoing worries.

“We do not know how these factors will play out, but we must prepare the Firm for a wide range of potential environments to ensure that we can consistently be there for clients,” he said.

On a call with reporters Friday morning, Dimon said American consumers still have excess savings, stocks are higher and unemployment is low. “Even if we go into recession, they’re in pretty good shape,” he noted. But he also said that lower-income earners are quickly running out of extra money. The bank is beginning to see some cracks in the subprime auto loan market.

Dimon, calling in from an investment banking conference in Florida, told reporters that he believes market pricing is likely “too happy” right now and that the chance of a bad outcome is “higher than other people think.”

But, Dimon said, “the important thing isn’t the economy — whether we have a mild recession or soft landing or something like that,” he said, referring to a scenario where inflation is vanquished without raising unemployment levels. What’s important, he said, “is the future of the free world,” referring to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“It could be determinative on what happens to the global economy if oil and gas prices go too high,” Dimon said.

The impact of ‘higher for longer’ rates

JPMorgan Chase acquired most of First Republic Bank’s assets last May after the San Francisco-based regional bank was seized by the government.

That acquisition added billions of dollars in loans to the bank’s balance sheet, boosting its income from interest.

JPMorgan Chase reported that average loans had increased 16% from the year before, mostly because of First Republic. Net interest income, or NII, from those loans (that’s the money a bank earns from loans minus the interest it pays on deposits) increased by 11% to $23.2 billion.

But the bank also said that NII could fall short of Wall Street expectations for the year.

Net interest income has been a key metric for analysts this quarter as they look to see how banks react to elevated interest rates by the Federal Reserve.

Banks, including JPMorgan, have brought in record profits, boosted by NII, as the central bank raised interest rates.

JPMorgan Chase also said on Friday that it would take a one-time $725 million charge by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation related to the mess that Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank left in the wake of their collapses last spring. It was large banks that mostly footed that bill.

Shares of the bank fell by 4.3% in morning trading but are up 45% over the last 12 months.

Mixed earnings

Separately, investment giant BlackRock reported that its assets under management swelled to a record $10.5 trillion during the first quarter. The company also beat top- and bottom-line expectations.

Wells Fargo, which also reported its first-quarter earnings Friday, topped Wall Street’s expectations but saw an 8% decline in net interest income from the prior year. The company also noted a $284 million expense during the first quarter related to the FDIC’s special assessment.

Citigroup reported net income of $3.4 billion in the first quarter, or $1.58 a share, outpacing analysts’ expectations for $1.18 a share, according to FactSet. CEO Jane Fraser said Friday the bank finished its organizational restructuring, which included layoffs, last month. The company saw $225 million in restructuring charges during the first quarter, largely driven by severance and other corporate reshuffling costs. Citi also noted a $251 million expense related to the FDIC’s cleanup of the regional bank collapses last year.

Shares of Wells Fargo were up slightly on Friday morning while shares of BlackRock and Citigroup fell.

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CNN’s Krystal Hur contributed reporting to this story.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Business/Consumer

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