What America’s CEOs are saying on inflation: We’re going to charge you more

In this photo illustration, hands are seen counting US $100 bills.
In this photo illustration, hands are seen counting $100 bills.

  • Inflation, or increased pricing for goods, is on the rise as the economy reopens.
  • Biden’s administration and the Fed says the price increases should be temporary.
  • But CEOs of major companies are saying that higher prices could persist.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The country is reopening and the economy is recovering from the pandemic, and while COVID-19 cases are down, prices for goods and services are on the rise. President Joe Biden’s administration says this phenomenon, known as inflation, is not a cause for concern, but CEOs of major companies are warning that they’ll probably keep raising prices.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly Consumer Price Index release showed that inflation in June was much higher than expected, with prices surging 0.9% over May, the highest month-over-month inflation rate since April 2008’s 1.0% increase. It was fueled by big price increases for used cars, beef, and pork, and the government insists it should cool down soon.

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh told Insider in early July that he’s not worried about the increase in prices for goods, especially given that wages also increased in June.

“The one thing that we are not concerned about is … inflation,” Walsh told Insider. “We’re still in transition, so we’re not concerned about that. So I think anytime we can push for higher wages – and the president’s been very vocal on this – that’s a good thing for people.”

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in May that the high prices should only last through the end of this year, and Biden said during a June press conference that the “overwhelming consensus” is that inflation should “pop up a little bit and then come back down” – similar to the consensus from America’s central bank, led by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

The economics field is not close to that consensus. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has pointed to Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus as the “least responsible” fiscal policy in 40 years, one that could potentially trigger the dreaded hyperinflation. Increasingly, executives are saying that price increases are here to stay. Here’s what else they’re saying:

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon.
JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said during an earnings call on July 13 that inflation “could be worse than people think.”

“I think it’ll be a little bit worse than what the Fed thinks,” Dimon said. “I don’t think it’s only temporary.”

In June, Insider reported that Dimon said the bank was stockpiling $500 billion in cash in anticipation of higher inflation, during which he expressed the same concerns with the nature of inflation, in that it will be more persistent than what people are saying.

JPMorgan did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

 

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink

GettyImages 480950078

Larry Fink, the CEO of investment management corporation BlackRock, reiterated Dimon’s concerns on the nature of inflation in a CNBC interview on July 14.

“[Policymakers] are saying jobs are more important than consumerism,” Fink said. “That is going to probably lead to systematically more inflation.”

Biden has consistently touted job growth as a primary achievement of his administration so far, and Republican lawmakers have even cut off unemployment benefits early in an effort to incentivize people to return to work.

But Fink said that move takes the focus away from consumers, causing large-scale price increases.

“I’m hearing from every CEO that they have huge price increases, and they’re passing them on across the board, here in the United States and in Europe,” Fink said.

BlackRock did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

PepsiCo CFO Hugh Johnston

FILE PHOTO: Bottles of Pepsi are pictured at a grocery store in Pasadena, California, U.S., July 11, 2017.   REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Bottles of Pepsi are pictured at a grocery store in Pasadena

To help counter the effects of inflation, some business leaders are explicitly saying they’re raising prices for their goods on consumers. PepsiCo’s CFO Hugh Johnston is one of them.

“Is there somewhat more inflationary pressures out there? There is,”  Johnston said on an earnings call on July 13. “Are we going to be pricing to deal with it? We certainly are.”

The CEO of industrial supplies company Holden Lewis echoed Johnston on an earnings call the same day, saying that “based on what cost is doing,” the company will have to increase prices on consumers.

Lewis said, though, that a previous price increase the company made was received “fairly well,” suggesting consumers might not be discouraged by increased prices. 

Pepsi did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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The latest on JPMorgan’s big wealth-management plans

Jamie Dimon
JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon

  • JPMorgan, headed up by CEO Jamie Dimon, is the biggest US bank by assets.
  • The firm wants to hire 1,500 private bank advisors. It’s also making branches a part of its wealth push.
  • JPMorgan is buying UK roboadvisor Nutmeg.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

JPMorgan is the biggest bank in the US and a bellwether for the global financial system. So when the firm’s senior-most leaders talk, Wall Street pays attention.

Private banking and wealth management are a key part of JPMorgan’s future.

In the past year, the bank has hired about 100 advisors for its private-bank division, which oversees more than $836 billion in client assets and caters to individuals worth at least $10 million. JPMorgan plans to hire as many as 1,500 new advisors over the next five years, doubling its current private-bank advisor head count, Private Bank CEO David Frame told Insider.

The bank this month also said it’s buying UK robo-advisor Nutmeg, which oversees some $4.9 billion for around 140,000 investors. The 9-year-old startup already used portfolios with active and passively managed exchange-traded funds provided by JPMorgan Asset Management.

JPMorgan has big plans for employees at the bank’s roughly 4,900 US branches. The bank is aiming to have all US branches staffed with licensed relationship bankers who can offer investment advice to clients by the end of the year, Insider has learned.

Wealth management plans

MASPETH, NY - NOVEMBER 17: Shivani Siroya, Kristin Lemkau and Stephanie Cohen speak onstage at Girlboss Rally NYC 2018 at Knockdown Center on November 17, 2018 in Maspeth, New York. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for Girlboss Rally NYC 2018)
Kristin Lemkau, center, the chief executive of JPMorgan’s US wealth management business.

JPMorgan is planning to significantly expand its financial advisor force, bringing the firm closer in size and scope to its rival firms in wealth management. Over the next five to six years, the bank is considering hiring as many as 4,000 advisors to roughly double its current base, US Wealth Management Chief Executive Officer Kristin Lemkau told Business Insider this fall.

Lemkau, who has been with the bank for over two decades and was previously its chief marketing officer, was named head of JPMorgan’s new wealth division in December 2019. Its various wealth businesses, including its self-directed wealth product, were reorganized under one umbrella.

Read more on JPMorgan’s wealth management plans:

Recent leadership shakeups and new hires

The bank on May 18 promoted two women to co-lead the firm’s massive consumer and community banking business: consumer-lending chief Marianne Lake and chief financial officer Jennifer Piepszak. The pair will take over running the division from Gordon Smith, who’s retiring this year from his roles as co-president and co-chief operating officer of the firm and CEO of CCB.

The moves shine a light on succession planning at the firm, as Lake and Piepszak are two of the top contenders to take over for CEO Jamie Dimon when he eventually retires. Smith had also been rumored to be in the running for the top job before announcing his retirement.

Read more:

collage (1)
Melissa Goldman and James Reid

JPMorgan in May named James Reid and Melissa Goldman to be CIOs of two newly-formed groups to help modernize tech for employees.

Reid is CIO of the firm’s employee experience and corporate technology organization, which is modernizing the tech employees use internally. And Goldman, also the firm’s chief data officer, is CIO of the finance, risk, data, and controls (FRDC) technology group.

JPMorgan also hired another ex-Marcus executive, Sherry Ann Mohan, chief financial officer for business banking, CNBC first reported. Mohan, who will start August, was previously at Goldman Sachs for 15 years and most recently the CFO of the consumer business, including the Marcus brand and Apple Card..

More on people moves here:

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Jamie Dimon says JPMorgan has stockpiled $500 billion in cash that it will look to invest as inflation picks up

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, speaks about investing in Detroit during a panel discussion at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., April 11, 2018.
JPMorgan CEO, Jamie Dimon.

JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon said on Monday the investment bank is sitting on $500 billion in cash in anticipation of higher inflation.

It has been “effectively stockpiling more and more cash” in anticipation of investing at higher rates rather than putting money into Treasuries and other investments now, he said at Morgan Stanley’s US Financials, Payments & Commercial Real Estate Conference.

“We have a lot of cash and capability and we’re going to be very patient, because I think you have a very good chance inflation will be more than transitory,” Dimon, the longest-serving CEO among the big US banks, said.

He suggested the risk of higher, more persistent inflation is growing. US inflation, or the rise in prices of goods and services, has picked up dramatically compared with last year, when the economy was in lockdown. Disruptions to the global supply chain and a burst of consumer spending have added to the increase. Higher interest rates would help ward off a more damaging pickup in inflation.

“If you look at our balance sheet, we have $500 billion in cash, we’ve actually been effectively stockpiling more and more cash waiting for opportunities to invest at higher rates,” he said. “I do expect to see higher rates and more inflation, and we’re prepared for that.”

While several Fed officials have been resolute in their view that the rise in inflation will ultimately prove transitory, other influential leaders have warned of the consequences of rising prices.

In a 1980 shareholder letter, Warren Buffett described high inflation as a “tax on capital” that dissuades corporate investment. The billionaire investor said the rise in general price levels can hurt more than income tax, and rising costs force companies to spend cash just to maintain their business – regardless of whether they’re generating profits.

JPMorgan, the largest US bank by assets, expects $52.5 billion in net-interest income in 2021, down from its previous expectation of $55 billion, partly due to a decline in credit card balances.

Separately, at Monday’s conference, Dimon said he planned to hold his position at JPMorgan for at least the next two to three years. Without giving an exact time frame, he said: “I intend to stay, which is sanctioned by the board, for a significant amount of time.”

Read More: Goldman Sachs says buy these 37 stocks that will offer strong returns with minimal risk through year-end as growth names regain leadership

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JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon warns investors not to buy crypto – and calls for clearer rules around trading it

jamie dimon
Jamie Dimon.

  • Jamie Dimon cautioned investors against owning cryptocurrencies.
  • The JPMorgan boss sees little value in them relative to gold and fiat currencies.
  • Dimon urged lawmakers to regulate crypto more closely.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Jamie Dimon blasted cryptocurrencies as inferior to traditional assets, warned people against buying them, and urged regulators to scrutinize them more closely at a congressional hearing this week.

“Something that’s not supported by anything, I do not believe has much value,” the JPMorgan CEO said. Blockchain and stablecoins aren’t in that camp, and his opinion doesn’t dictate whether his company embraces crypto, he added.

“My own personal advice to people is stay away from it,” Dimon said. “That does not mean the clients don’t want it – this goes back to how you have to run a business. I don’t smoke marijuana, but if you make it nationally legal, I’m not gonna stop our people from banking it.”

JPMorgan is exploring ways to allow clients to buy and sell crypto and have it appear on their statements, the bank’s chief said. However, he reiterated his view that crypto pales in comparison to conventional assets, and carries a lot more risk.

“It’s nothing like a fiat currency, it’s nothing like gold,” Dimon said. “Buyer beware.”

The executive also bemoaned the lack of rules in the crypto space, which he described as a “serious emerging issue” in his latest shareholder letter.

“The regulators who are a day late and a dollar short should be paying a lot more attention,” he said, highlighting crypto, payment for order flow, and high-frequency trading as areas of concern.

Bitcoin surged in price from under $10,000 a year ago to north of $60,000 in April, and continues to trade at north of $30,000. Dimon said he wasn’t a fan of the coin earlier this month, and has dismissed it as fraudulent and dangerous in the past.

“It’s worse than tulip bulbs,” he said in 2017. “It won’t end well. Someone is going to get killed.”

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JPMorgan’s new co-heads of consumer banking offer fresh clues about Jamie Dimon’s succession plans

Jamie Dimon
JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon

  • JPMorgan, headed up by CEO Jamie Dimon, is the biggest US bank by assets.
  • JPMorgan this week shook up leadership of its massive consumer bank.
  • JPMorgan has also made new digital banking hires, including poaching an exec from Goldman.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

JPMorgan is the biggest bank in the US and a bellwether for the global financial system. So when the firm’s senior-most leaders talk, Wall Street pays attention.

The bank on May 18 promoted two women to co-lead the firm’s massive consumer and community banking business: consumer-lending chief Marianne Lake and chief financial officer Jennifer Piepszak. The pair will take over running the division from Gordon Smith, who made the surprising announcement that he was retiring this year from his roles as co-president and co-chief operating officer of the firm and CEO of CCB.

The moves shine a light on succession planning at the firm, as Lake and Piepszak are two of the top contenders to take over for CEO Jamie Dimon when he eventually retires. Smith had also been rumored to be in the running for the top job before announcing his retirement.

JPMorgan also continues to feast on hires from Goldman Sachs’ Marcus division: Sherry Ann Mohan, a 15-year Goldman veteran who was mostly recently CFO of the bank’s consumer business, will start as CFO of JPMorgan’s business banking in August. This comes after the bank poached three Marcus executives in April.

JPMorgan is also beefing up its tech offerings for employees, appointing CIOs to newly formed groups.

The bank opened its U.S. offices on May 17 and is requiring all employees to come in by July, according to an internal memo sent in May. JPMorgan is also planning to bring some interns to the office this summer, and CEO Jamie Dimon has said he expects staff to be maskless in the office later this year.

Read more:

Recent hires and exits at JPMorgan

collage (1)
Melissa Goldman and James Reid

There have been many opportunities in recent weeks for existing JPMorgan executives to step into new roles at the firm. In addition to Marianne Lake’s and Jennifer Piepszak’s promotions to co-heads of consumer and community banking, the firm named James Reid and Melissa Goldman to be CIOs of two newly-formed groups to help modernize tech for employees.

Reid is CIO of the firm’s employee experience and corporate technology organization, which is modernizing the tech employees use internally. And Goldman, also the firm’s chief data officer, is CIO of the finance, risk, data, and controls (FRDC) technology group.

JPMorgan also hired another ex-Marcus executive, Sherry Ann Mohan, chief financial officer for business banking, CNBC first reported. Mohan, who will start August, was previously at Goldman Sachs for 15 years and most recently the CFO of the consumer business, including the Marcus brand and Apple Card.

And the bank’s former global head of diversity and inclusion for the wealth and asset management business, Tia Counts, departed last week for index giant MSCI, where she will be the new chief diversity and inclusion officer.

More on people moves here:

Wealth management plans

MASPETH, NY - NOVEMBER 17: Shivani Siroya, Kristin Lemkau and Stephanie Cohen speak onstage at Girlboss Rally NYC 2018 at Knockdown Center on November 17, 2018 in Maspeth, New York. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for Girlboss Rally NYC 2018)
Kristin Lemkau, center, the chief executive of JPMorgan’s US wealth management business.

JPMorgan is planning to significantly expand its financial advisor force, bringing the firm closer in size and scope to its rival firms in wealth management. Over the next five to six years, the bank is considering hiring as many as 4,000 advisors to roughly double its current base, US Wealth Management Chief Executive Officer Kristin Lemkau told Business Insider this fall.

Lemkau, who has been with the bank for over two decades and was previously its chief marketing officer, was named head of JPMorgan’s new wealth division in December 2019. Its various wealth businesses, including its self-directed wealth product, were reorganized under one umbrella.

Read more on JPMorgan’s wealth management plans:

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JPMorgan chief Jamie Dimon wants detailed disclosures on how federal money is spent if lawmakers raise taxes. Democratic lawmakers were quick to respond.

jamie dimon
Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, takes part in a panel discussion about investing in Detroit at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., April 11, 2018.

If President Joe Biden plans to raise taxes among large corporations and the wealthy, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon wants to know where every single extra penny ends up.

The billionaire businessman urged lawmakers to court the devil in the details during a recorded interview for the Investment Company Institute’s general membership meeting posted Thursday. During the 30-minute conversation, Dimon voiced his “concerns” about Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan.

“I’m…concerned how the money’s going to be spent,” he said. “The government needs to be very clear on what they want to accomplish.”

He noted his support for a bipartisan bill and also suggested that lawmakers create and share an itemized list of the ways extra dollars from a tax hike would fund the government’s infrastructure plans.

“On highways, how many miles are you going to build? How much is it going to cost? When’s it going to get done? Who’s responsible?”

Dimon’s preference for specifics – like Biden’s proposed bill – goes beyond the traditional elements of infrastructure.

“On education, not just free community colleges,” he added. “How many kids are going to graduate? How many kids are going to have a job at $65,000 a year?”

Biden’s infrastructure bill has been slammed by Republicans, who have called it a “liberal wish-list,” and “Soviet-style infrastructure,” arguing the bill has little to do with traditional infrastructure, like roads and bridges.

“So I worry about not just the bill, but we’re just throwing money. It doesn’t work,” he said. “And we already waste tremendous sums of money.”

Dimon said if lawmakers are going to take the American people’s money, they owe it to the public to be up front with how they use it, comparing it to the information companies are required to disclose.

In response to Dimon’s comments, Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii in a tweet Thursday evening said the federal government already keeps a detailed record of spending outcomes, and pointed Dimon to The Senate Committee on Appropriations.

Dimon did say he believed taxation and infrastructure are “completely unrelated.”

“We should have proper infrastructure, proper immigration, proper healthcare, proper stuff,” he said. “And then we should have proper corporate taxation, and obviously we got to pay for this stuff.”

The businessman also called the idea of some of Biden’s proposed tax hikes “a little crazy,” arguing that competitive corporate taxation is vital to capital formation and economic growth in the country.

“I think they’re making a mistake,” Dimon said about the proposal to get rid of the Trump-era corporate tax cut and raise rates on businesses. Dimon lobbied for the tax cuts.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez picked up on his past push for the cut to corporate tax rates.

“That’s funny, because Jamie Dimon didn’t give working people an itemized list of the school districts, public hospitals, infrastructure, or affordable housing projects he was helping defund when he pushed for the $2T GOP Tax Scam in 2017 w/ goodies for yacht and jet owners,” she tweeted in reply to Dimon’s wish for an itemized list.

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JPMorgan CEO says that working remotely ‘does not work’ for young people and those who want to ‘hustle’

jamie dimon jpmorgan
  • JPMorgan’s CEO said remote work makes it harder for young people and those that hustle.
  • He said that he did not expect the working world to change dramatically due to the pandemic.
  • JPMorgan hopes to have people back in the office, mask-free, by October of this year.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Jamie Dimon is sick of Zoom meetings and sees plenty of downsides to not working face to face with people.

The JPMorgan CEO said that he’s ready to leave video calls behind and get back into the office as soon as possible, in remarks at the The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit on Tuesday.

When the coronavirus pandemic forced JPMorgan employees – and many others – to work from home, it “accelerated a trend,” Dimon said.

“But it does not work for young people,” he added. “It doesn’t work for those who want to hustle.”

The Wall Street Journal’s editor-in-chief, Matt Murray, asked Dimon about his personal feelings on Zoom meetings and remote work.

“I’m about to cancel all my Zoom meetings … I’m done with it. I’m going to Boston today,” Dimon responded.

The CEO has spoken critically about remote work during the coronavirus pandemic, citing the need for a hybrid work model that’s flexible but still works for “the company and the clients.” He’s previously said simply letting everyone do “what they want” isn’t an option because it’s inefficient, and that he’s struggled at times to get ahold of employees.

Dimon told Murray that he had been attending outdoor meetings and traveling, and that in-person conversation is better for “spontaneous idea generation.”

Dimon has been having some in-person meetings, he said during the summit, all of them outside. He said in a trip to California about six months ago, he met with 100 to 150 people, from venture capitalists to women’s groups to investors.

“I got to see my bankers in action,” he added. He also mentioned in-person meetings with clients, often over a glass of wine, where they might share why JPMorgan did or did not get a piece of business.

Dimon said in the summit that “my view is that sometime in September or October, it’ll look just like it did before.”

“I just don’t think the world is going to be that dramatically different,” Dimon added.

Dimon has been consistent on this point. He told clients in a webinar that he expected a mask-free office by October. However, Dimon does expect some form of hybrid work to persevere.

JPMorgan is reconfiguring its offices to about 60% of their former capacity, per reporting from Insider in April. The reconfiguration will result in a lower overhead cost for real estate.

“My view is that there will be more hybrid work,” the CEO told Murray.

The bank will also be hiring more young people, per reporting from Reuters, after junior bankers across the industry raised concerns about long hours and burnout. It’s hiring more support staff to lessen the burden on individual workers, and, in an effort to get more young people in the doors, looking into bringing some interns into its offices in New York City and London for in-person work this summer.

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JPMorgan could make its first bitcoin fund available to private rich clients as soon as this summer, report says

Screenshot 2021 04 26 at 12.32.43
JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon.

JPMorgan is in the process of offering an actively-managed bitcoin fund to its private wealth clients for the first time, CoinDesk reported on Monday.

The fund could roll out as soon as the summer of 2021, the report said, citing two sources. Crypto-focused financial services company NYDIG is said to serve as the bank’s custody provider.

An actively-managed fund implies that money managers would supervise specific decisions about how the fund’s investments are carried out. Passively-managed funds, like those offered by Pantera Capital and Galaxy Digital, simply track a crypto market index without being touched by a money management team.

JPMorgan, the largest US investment bank by assets, has gradually shifted its stance on cryptocurrencies after labelling them as fraudulent four years ago.

CEO Jamie Dimon said in a 2018 interview he doesn’t “really give a s–t” about the digital asset and didn’t expect it to rival fiat currency. More recently, he listed fintechs as one of the “enormous competitive” threats to banks in an annual shareholder letter released this month.

The bank now frequently publishes research reports about bitcoin, and said last week the worst of the recent liquidation have likely passed. “Bitcoin liquidity is likely to remain robust and resilient; depth on major exchanges has continued to drop less and recover faster than other asset classes,” JPMorgan strategists said in a note.

Bitcoin rose 10% on Monday to trade near $53,000 after tumbling to its lowest level in nearly two months.

JPMorgan declined to comment on the report when contacted by Insider.

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JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon doesn’t expect stocks to crash anytime soon – but warns against ignoring Warren Buffett and trying to time the market

Jamie Dimon pointing
JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon.

  • Jamie Dimon expects a post-virus economic boom to support stock prices.
  • The JPMorgan CEO advised heeding Warren Buffett and not trying to time the market.
  • Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway sold its stake in JPMorgan last year.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon doesn’t expect stocks to crash in the coming months – but he recommends investors listen to Warren Buffett and not attempt to time the market.

The banking chief is predicting sustained US growth, fueled by consumers’ $2 trillion in savings, low levels of household debt, and the economy reopening as the virus threat recedes. Even without President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus program and infrastructure-spending plans, the outlook seems rosy to him.

“It’s going to be a boom, and it could last for years,” Dimon said in a webcast for JPMorgan’s wealth-management clients, hosted by Kristin Lemkau on Wednesday. His comments were first reported by Yahoo Finance and confirmed to Insider by a JPMorgan spokesperson.

The “booming economy will justify today’s prices,” Dimon continued. However, he warned that markets can be unpredictable and some assets are in bubble territory.

Inflation could also spike and the Federal Reserve might move to cool the economy more quickly than expected, he cautioned. “That would surprise people and I guarantee you, stock prices would be too high if that happened,” he said.

Dimon also advised investors not to try getting in and out of stocks based on their market predictions.

“Investing should be a permanent thing,” he said. “Guessing at market tops, market bottoms – that is a complete loser’s game. I’ve never seen anyone win at it. The smartest investor in the world, Warren Buffett, would say that is not the way to invest.”

Indeed, Buffett famously focuses on buying wonderful businesses at fair prices, and doesn’t try to anticipate how markets will move.

Dimon’s praise of Buffett isn’t surprising as the two men have admired each other for years. Buffett has lauded Dimon’s talent and character, and once defended the banker’s pay by offering to hire him on a higher salary at his Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate. The pair have also partnered in the past and co-written columns.

“I think he knows more about markets than probably anybody you could find in the world,” Buffett told Marketplace in 2018.

However, Buffett and Dimon’s history didn’t prevent Berkshire from selling the last of its JPMorgan shares in the fourth quarter of 2020, after building a stake worth $8 billion a year earlier.

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Walmart, Delta, and Coca-Cola refused to join hundreds of other companies in opposing restrictive voting laws – here’s why

Georgia polling place
A voter walks to the entrance during early voting for the Senate runoff election, at Ron Anderson Recreation Center, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, in Powder Springs, Ga. Todd Kirkland/AP

While hundreds of major companies signed a new letter Wednesday opposing restrictive voting rules in the wake of Georgia’s election law, some notable ones – including Walmart, Coca-Cola, JPMorgan, and Delta Air Lines – declined to join the effort.

The letter, which ran as a full-page ad in the Wednesday edition of The New York Times and Washington Post, opposed “any discriminatory legislation” that limited people’s ability to vote. United Airlines, American Express, Facebook, Target, investor Warren Buffett, and others joined the effort.

Last month, a smaller group of companies signed a letter with similar sentiment organized by Black business leaders.

But, the Times reported, several companies declined to sign Wednesday’s letter, including Georgia-based Coca-Cola, Delta, and Home Depot, as well as Walmart and JPMorgan Chase.

“We publicly made our own strong statement last month about the critical importance of every citizen being able to exercise their fundamental right to vote,” a spokesperson for JPMorgan said.

The bank’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon, was one of the first major business leaders to speak out against the law, saying on CNN that he encourages workers to exercise their right to vote and opposes any efforts that would prevent them from doing so.

When asked about not signing onto Wednesday’s statement, a spokesperson for Home Depot said: “We’ve decided that the most appropriate approach for us to take is to continue to underscore our belief that all elections should be accessible, fair and secure and support broad voter participation, and to continue to work to ensure our associates in Georgia and across the country have the information and resources to vote.”

Read more: Corporate America’s response to Georgia’s new voting laws isn’t benevolence. It’s about economics and profit, experts say.

Coca-Cola didn’t respond to a request for comment. The beverage-maker faced consumer boycotts last month for not doing enough to oppose the bill. It later said it wanted to be “crystal clear” that it was disappointed in the outcome of the Georgia voting law. That sparked former President Donald Trump, a noted Diet Coke fanatic, to tell his followers to protest the company.

Delta and Walmart also didn’t respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Amid pressure to condemn the Georgia voting law, Delta CEO Ed Bastian blasted the legislation last month, saying it was “based on a lie.”

The Times reported that Walmart CEO Doug McMillon told employees in a note that the company is “not in the business of partisan politics,” noting that the retailer focuses on business issues such as taxes and regulation. In the note, he added that “broad participation and trust in the election process” are essential to the integrity of elections.

In March, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed the election bill, known as SB202, into law. The legislation made ballot drop boxes permanent, but only at select locations during limited hours, and shortened the window for requesting absentee ballots. The law also banned ballot selfies, and expanded early voting dates and hours in most counties, among other restrictive measures.

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