JPMorgan's Dimon says U.S. banks healthy, Europe lagging

Reuters
JPMorgan Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon speaks at the Aspen Institute's "Closing the Workforce Skills Gap" seminar
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JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon speaks during a discussion on "Closing the Workforce Skills Gap" at the Aspen Institute in Washington December 12, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Theiler

PARIS (Reuters) - European banks are still lagging behind the U.S. banking industry, which has almost completely recovered from the global financial crisis, Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM), told French newspaper Le Figaro.

"Profits may still vary for different kinds of reasons. But if you look at the equity, outstanding loans, debt capacity, you would see the (U.S.) banking system is sound," the chairman of the biggest bank in the United States by assets was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

"It can now do its job: financing growth and employment. Unfortunately, Europe is not yet at the same stage."

Five-and-a-half years after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, the Federal Reserve said in late March that U.S. big banks have sufficient capital buffers to withstand a drastic economic downturn, announcing that 29 out of 30 major banks met the minimum hurdle in its annual health check.

The European Central Bank is now probing European banks' balance sheets as part of a bigger plan to harmonize banking supervision, aiming to avert a repeat of the debt crisis which cost trillions in taxpayer bailouts.

Asked if JPMorgan had turned the page in terms of legal investigations and settlements, Dimon was quoted by the newspaper as saying "the bulk of the problems are behind us".

The bank agreed to around $20 billion in legal settlements in 2013. Dimon said in January that some investigations into JPMorgan were just beginning, implying that legal issues were likely to dog the bank for some time, even if on a smaller scale.

(Corrects name of newspaper and reference to it as a financial daily)

(Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva; Editing by Mark Potter)

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