Democratic lawmakers should be cautious about spending too much money on coronavirus relief efforts, according to JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who warned this week that “overdoing it” on fiscal stimulus could lead to runaway economic growth.
“We’re just throwing money at people at one point,” Dimon told Bloomberg TV during an interview on Monday. “There will be another side to that mountain, so they should be cautious about overdoing it, get us through the problem, get the country going, but try not to overdo it too much.”
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Dimon’s comments come amid a fierce debate over the nearly $2 trillion coronavirus relief package that Democrats are aiming to pass — most likely without any GOP support — this month.
Lawmakers are severely divided over the size and scope of the proposal, with Republicans deriding the legislation as too expensive and filled with provisions that disproportionately benefit Democrats’ liberal constituencies. Democrats, meanwhile, argue the $1.9 trillion bill is needed to boost the economy’s recovery from the pandemic, with 10 million fewer jobs than there were a year ago and the unemployment rate officially at 6.3%.
“Democrats, Republicans are like ships passing in a night,” Dimon, the top executive at the nation’s biggest bank, said. “There are legitimate complaints about stuff in this bill that have nothing to do with COVID. There are a lot of people suffering who need help. Both are true.”
Congress has already approved about $4 trillion in stimulus measures under former President Donald Trump, including a $900 billion aid package in December, pushing the nation’s debt to record-high levels. The figure is poised to hit at least $30 trillion this year.
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Dimon noted there’s still about $1 trillion in unspent relief funds, a large share of which is already earmarked for spending. Assuming that Democrats forge ahead and pass the latest relief bill, he predicted there will be “gangbuster” growth in the remainder of 2021 and in 2022.
“And the question is, does that overheat everything?” he said. “And we just don’t know yet. I would put that on the things to worry about. I wouldn’t worry too much about it…but I would suspect there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to see rates going up and people starting to worry about that at one point.”
Inflation fears, driven in part by a rise in Treasury bond yields, have rattled Wall Street in recent weeks, with some investors worried about the Federal Reserve pumping the brakes and tightening its monetary policy sooner than expected.
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But Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, speaking before Congress last week as part of his semi-annual testimony, reiterated that policymakers would not raise rates until “labor markets have reached levels consistent with the committee’s assessments of maximum employment and inflation has risen to 2% and is on track to moderately exceed 2% for some time.”
“The economy is a long way from our employment and inflation goals, and it is likely to take some time for substantial further progress to be achieved,” he said.
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