In his annual letter to JPMorgan shareholders, CEO Jamie Dimon has a clear warning:
“Some things never change — there will be another crisis, and its impact will be felt by the financial markets.”
Dimon adds that the trigger of the next crisis will not be the same as the last one, but no matter — the next crisis will come in time.
And how it unravels won’t be as unfamiliar as we might expect.
“While crises look different, the anatomy of how they play out does have common threads,” Dimon writes.
Here are the core behaviours investors exhibit when these crises break out, according to Dimon.
- First, they sell the assets they believe are at the root of the problem.
- Second, they generally look to put more of their money in safe havens, commonly selling riskier assets like credit and equities and buying safer assets by putting deposits in strong banks, buying Treasuries or purchasing very safe money market funds.
- Often at one point in a crisis, investors can sell only less risky assets if they need to raise cash because, virtually, there may be no market for the riskier ones.
And what’s more, no investor is truly safe in a crisis. Here’s Dimon:
These investors include individuals, corporations, mutual funds, pension plans, hedge funds — pretty much everyone — each individually doing the right thing for themselves but, collectively, creating the market disruption that we’ve witnessed before. This is the “run-on-the-market” phenomenon that you saw in the last crisis.
Dimon continues his discussion of what the next crisis could look like by breaking down how banks’ balance sheets have changed since the financial crisis.
Banks now hold 100% of liquid assets against potential cash outflows, and Dimon says no bank will want to be the first to admit their liquidity coverage ratio has declined for fear of looking weak.
Dimon also says that investors will want to buy Treasuries because they are considered safe, but with Treasury supply declining, investors will have to find other places to put their capital.