Billionaire Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co., joked during an interview with CNBC that his bank will outlast the Chinese Communist Party, and argued that JPMorgan, unlike the party, should not be satisfied with merely growing but instead striving to excel.
“The first thing we did was take our staff off a stake in the IPOs for three days for a vacation and for a speech on John F. Kennedy,” Dimon joked during the interview. “That was our way of signaling to the Chinese communist party that we’re not happy just being that good, we’re trying to be great.”
Dimon continued, “Once we get in, we have better economic forecasts than the Chinese government for the next 10 years. They have 20 years’ experience of being poor, we have 200 years.”
The remarks could be viewed as a jab at recent elections in China in which President Xi Jinping has used populism to win over voters angry over the economy and corruption among the ruling elite.
Dimon’s remarks come as Washington and Beijing increasingly trade barbs over trade tensions, with each side preparing for possible retaliatory tariffs, and as President Donald Trump has blasted a dominant role by the Chinese government in businesses and the economy.
Dimon’s bank, which operates in China through its joint venture China Citic Bank, did a huge deal with the Chinese in August to buy the supermarket chain Lianhua in a deal with Chinese buyer Citic Ltd. for $6.3 billion.
But Dimon insisted that the linchpin of the JPMorgan’s expansion plans is a non-political approach to business and politics.
“In my group, we go, ‘Okay, we think this is a great deal. What can we do to sell this? We should be the leading force for this globally,’” Dimon said. “If we get out of our lanes, if we overstay our welcome, and become increasingly political and we begin to associate politics with business, business will inevitably give up.”
In a separate CNBC interview, Dimon said that JPMorgan should not stop investing in Washington even if the town falls apart.
“We can afford to have lots of chapters of employees, that we have a huge presence here, at lots of places,” Dimon said, according to Bloomberg. “One of the important things to a company is creating great jobs. You know, we are smart people, we’re making great decisions on our behalf, and they’re making great decisions on our behalf. Do we want to be addicted to debt and be like those Italians that we all used to hear about? No.”
Dimon added, “I don’t want to be unhappy about things that happen over here or over there, I just want to make decisions here in America. It might affect what happens in Ireland or London.”