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JPMorgan CEO: Economic policy reforms won't matter if America is divided

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon condemned President Donald J. Trump’s ambiguous response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend that left three people dead.

“I strongly disagree with President Trump’s reaction to the events that took place in Charlottesville over the past several days,” Dimon said in a company-wide email. “Racism, intolerance, and violence are always wrong. The equal treatment of all people is one of our nation’s bedrock principles. There is no room for equivocation here: the evil on display by these perpetrators of hate should be condemned and has no place in a country that draws strength from our diversity and humanity.”

Dimon acknowledged that social and economic issues are not mutually exclusive.

“As a company and for all business in general, it is critical that we help develop rational, intelligent policies to help expand opportunities for all of our citizens,” he said. “I know that times are tough for many. The lack of economic growth and opportunity has led to deep and understandable frustration among so many Americans.”

Dimon, like many businesspeople, has been in support of Trump’s economic policy proposals. But also like many businesspeople, he has been frustrated by Trump’s inability to get anything done.

“[F]anning divisiveness is not the answer,” he said. “Constructive economic and regulatory policies are not enough and will not matter if we do not address the divisions in our country. It is a leader’s role, in business or government, to bring people together, not tear them apart.”

Trump was criticized for his initial response over the weekend, in which he said there was blame on “many sides.” On Monday morning, Merck CEO Kenneth C. Frazier took action and quit Trump’s manufacturing council in protest. Within moments of that announcement, Trump lashed out at Frazier over Twitter.

In a speech made from the White House on Monday, Trump denounced racism as “evil” and called out hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis. But that didn’t prevent two more CEOs — Under Armour’s Kevin Plank and Intel’s Bryan Kryzanich — from quitting the manufacturing council later that evening.

On Tuesday in a Q&A with reporters from Trump Tower, the president said there was “blame on both sides.” That was followed by a slew of top CEOs abandoning Trump’s manufacturing council up until the point the group was disbanded.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Trump also announced the disbanding of his Strategy and Policy Forum, which had Dimon as a member.


Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo FinanceFollow her on Twitter.