JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon said it remains possible the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates an additional 75 basis points due to "stickier" inflation, warning businesses should be prepared for such a worst-case scenario.
Speaking just hours after the Fed's decision on Wednesday to hold interest rates in a range of 5.25%-5.50%, Dimon said "I think they're right to pause here and see what happens," adding: "I suspect that they may not be done."
Dimon spoke with Yahoo Finance Live in an exclusive interview from JPMorgan Chase's 'Make Your Move Summit' in Frisco, Texas.
Regarding the magnitude of future rate hikes from the Fed, Dimon said, "Maybe 25, 50, to 75 [basis points] more."
"And I'm not predicting that," Dimon said, "I just think there's a higher chance than probably other people think."
In its statement on Wednesday, the Fed upgraded its assessment of the economy to "strong" in the third quarter from "solid" in September. This change came after third quarter GDP data published last week showed growth clocked in at a whopping 4.9% annualized rate over the summer months, which was driven in large part by strong consumer spending.
Dimon said Wednesday the Fed was right to pause, though the JPMorgan chief said, "I think there's a chance that inflation is just a little stickier than people think and their fiscal and monetary stimulus in the last several years is more than people think. Unemployment is very low. We'll see."
Dimon has been warning for months about the possibility that rates could still surge and that this move could expose those in the financial world who took too much risk when rates were low.
"This may be the most dangerous time the world has seen in decades," Dimon said in the firm's earnings release on Oct. 13.
He is particularly worried about the effects of the Fed's quantitative tightening, which is increasing the supply of bonds while foreign governments slow their pace of buying. That, he said, could apply even more pressure on 10-year Treasury yields.
"At one point," he said Wednesday, "it will rattle the markets."
The big bank that appears to be best positioned for an era of higher rates is JPMorgan, which signaled as early as 2020 that it wasn’t willing to take a lot of risk with an influx of deposits that flooded into the banking system during the early days of the pandemic.
Some of JPMorgan’s rivals began investing that money in longer-dated securities in a search for higher yield, only to see the value of those holdings go down once the Fed began raising rates in 2022 and 2023.
The unrealized losses that piled up were partly responsible for the fall of Silicon Valley Bank, which attempted in March to sell large amounts of its bonds at a loss in a last-ditch effort to gain more liquidity.
Dimon, according to a person familiar with his thinking, is concerned that some banks didn’t do enough to fix their balance sheets following the chaos of this spring.
JPMorgan benefited from that chaos. In May it won a government-run auction to purchase the bulk of operations of First Republic after regulators seized the San Francisco lender. First Republic has helped make JPMorgan even more profitable; in the third quarter, it exceeded Wall Street expectations by earning $13.2 billion, up 35% from the same period a year ago.
Dimon, who became CEO in 2005, is currently the longest-serving boss of a major national bank and the only one with sharp memories of what it was like to be in charge during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
He said during his interview Wednesday that after decades of low rates markets may face a "sea change," rattling off a number of what he called "long-term inflation effects" — a large US deficit, domestic spending on new programs, and an aging population reliant on government social safety nets.
"I don't see anything that is future disinflationary," Dimon said.
JPMorgan, he said, is ready for long-term rates to stay higher for longer.
"We stress for it," Dimon said, adding the bank is ready to "serve [its] clients regardless."
As rates remain elevated, however, the CEO cautioned, "you are going to see quite a few people swimming naked."