I would urge anybody wondering how to understand the economic mess and what we need to do to get out of it, to watch JP Morgan’s CEO, Jamie Dimon’s speech today at the US Chamber of Commerce (3/11/09).
Here are five major points he made:
1) Stop real estate from bringing America’s economy to its knees. It happened in the 1980’s and now is the main ingredient in the current recession. In each case, underwriting standards went out the window and greed and fast money took over. Remember, builders will build, if lenders will lend.
2) Proper regulation does not need to mean larger or smaller government, it means better government. This statement covers not only financial regulation but the broad spectrum of government. Look at education, we spend more than any other country per pupil and we rank near the bottom of the major industrialized nations in public education.
3) Stop fighting in Washington. America is at a pivotal point. Democrats, Republicans, House, Senate and the White House need to all pull together to solve the problems. Their ability to work together will decide the fate of the country.
4) Don’t vilify the entrepreneur and American businessman. If you make money, employ people, pay taxes and are successful, you are NOT the enemy. Most businesses are run by hard working, tax paying, law abiding citizens who put the food on millions of Americans tables every day. Just because a small percentage got drunk with success, don’t punish and vilify those that do the hard work each day and build their businesses and contribute to the American economy.
5) Turn our thinking around from being counter cyclical. Why is it that when times are good, we lesson the loss reserves and then increase them when time are bad? The same applies with lending. During the good times, we lend more with less risk management and then cut off lending when business really needs it as things slow down. We should all get used to carrying umbrellas even when the sun is shining. In other words, hope for the best, but plan for the worst.