JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon is out with his annual letter to shareholders.
The 46-page letter sets out Dimon’s thoughts on a wide range of issues from JPMorgan’s performance to the prospect of changes to regulation. In a section on public policy, Dimon said that “America today is probably stronger than ever before,” but then added that something is holding the country back.
“Many economists believe we are now permanently relegated to slower growth and lower productivity (they say that secular stagnation is the new normal), but I strongly disagree,” Dimon said.
Dimon then detailed six problems he believes are holding America back that often don’t show up in economic models.
“Making this list was an upsetting exercise, especially since many of our problems have been self-inflicted,” he said. “That said, it was also a good reminder of how much of this is in our control and how critical it is that we focus on all the levers that could be pulled to help the U.S. economy.”
Here’s the six problem areas he identified (emphasis added):
“Over the last 16 years, we have spent trillions of dollars on wars when we could have been investing that money productively. (I’m not saying that money didn’t need to be spent; but every dollar spent on battle is a dollar that can’t be put to use elsewhere.)
“Since 2010, when the government took over student lending, direct government lending to students has gone from approximately $US200 billion to more than $US900 billion — creating dramatically increased student defaults and a population that is rightfully angry about how much money they owe, particularly since it reduces their ability to get other credit.
“Our nation’s healthcare costs are essentially twice as much per person vs. most other developed nations.
“It is alarming that approximately 40% (this is an astounding 300,000 students each year) of those who receive advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and maths at American universities are foreign nationals with no legal way of staying here even when many would choose to do so. We are forcing great talent overseas by not allowing these young people to build their dreams here.
“Felony convictions for even minor offenses have led, in part, to 20 million American citizens having a criminal record — and this means they often have a hard time getting a job. (There are six times more felons in the United States than in Canada.)
“The inability to reform mortgage markets has dramatically reduced mortgage availability. We estimate that mortgages alone would have been more than $US1 trillion higher had we had healthier mortgage markets. Greater mortgage access would have led to more homebuilding and additional jobs and investments, which also would have driven additional growth.”