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Jamie Dimon thinks America's 'secret sauce' is at risk

Myles Udland
Markets Reporter

Follow Yahoo Finance’s full coverage of JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon’s annual letter to shareholders.

Like Warren Buffett, JPMorgan (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon thinks the U.S. economy has the “secret sauce.”

To Dimon, however, the public’s current view of what businesses and the corporate world are all about risks taking this away from the U.S. economy. Because to Dimon, the “secret sauce” that powers the American economy is all about one thing: trust.

The secret sauce (Wikimedia Commons)

“Something has gone awry in the public’s understanding of business and free enterprise,” Dimon writes in his latest letter to JPMorgan shareholders.

“Whether it is the current environment or the deficiency of education in general, the lack of understanding around free enterprise is astounding,” Dimon adds.

“When business or individuals in business do something wrong (problems that all institutions have, including schools, churches, governments, small businesses, etc.), they should be appropriately punished — but not be demonized. We need trust and confidence in our institutions — confidence is a ‘secret sauce’ that, without spending any money, it helps the economy grow.

“A strong and vibrant private sector (including big companies) is good for the average American. Entrepreneurship and free enterprise, with strong ethics and high standards, are worth rooting for, not attacking.”

Jamie Dimon

Warren Buffett has said the U.S. economy has a “secret sauce” which “unleashes human potential like no system has ever unleashed it in history.”

Buffett and Dimon also share similarly optimistic views on the long-term prospects of the U.S., and one can be sure Dimon does not use the phrase “secret sauce” unintentionally or lightly — this is a Buffett-inspired reference all the way.

In his letter, Dimon highlights the myriad factors he sees holding back the U.S. economy. Among them are the usual culprits of regulation and taxes, along with the recent and troubling drop in labor force participation among prime-age working men.

But even if we worked out all of the issues facing the economy right now, in Dimon’s view there is still a fundamental gap between how the public views business and the role business plays in the lives of many Americans.

“Approximately 150 million people work in the United States; 130 million work in private enterprise,” Dimon writes.

Warren Buffett

“We hold in high regard the 20 million people who work in the government — teachers, policemen, firemen and others. But we could not pay for those jobs if the other 130 million were not actively producing the GDP of America.”

And in Dimon’s view, all it takes to overcome this current gap between what private enterprise does for the U.S. economy and how he believes the public feels about business is a little bit of cooperation.

“By working together the business community, government and the nonprofit sector can ensure and maintain a healthy and vibrant economy today and into the future, creating jobs, fostering economic mobility and maintaining sustainable economic growth,” Dimon writes.

“By working together and applying some good old American can-do ingenuity, there is nothing that we can’t accomplish.”

Myles Udland is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @MylesUdland

Read more from Dimon’s letter here: