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JPMorgan (JPM) CEO's Annual Letter: The Key Takeaways

JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM CEO, Jamie Dimon recently released his annual letter to the shareholders. He touched upon a wide range of domestic and international topics in the letter. He also urged investors to oppose the proposal of breaking up the bank, pointing out how beneficial larger banks are for the U.S. economy.

Big banks have been modifying their businesses and “client relationship” to comply with regulatory rules. JPMorgan benefits from its size and is just big enough to serve the clients efficiently without being unmanageable. In the past year, the company has reduced its non-operating deposits by $200 billion, simplified operations and lowered its GSIB capital surcharge ratio to 3.5% from 4.5%.

Despite such efforts, analysts, government officials, investors and shareholders continue to call for the banks’ breakup into smaller, manageable entities. Of late, an activist shareholder, Bartlett Collins Naylor has been urging shareholders of JPMorgan and Citigroup Inc. C to vote in favor of breaking up these big banks (read more: ''Break Up the Big Banks" Debate Resurfaces Again).

Dimon, in the letter, also contended that “There is a great need for the services of all banks, from large global banks to smaller regional and community banks. That said, our large, global Corporate & Investment Bank does things that regional and community banks simply cannot do.”

In defending big banks, he stated that any attempt to destabilize banks will lead the country to lose its stature as the global financial services leader. Further, Dimon stated “Because of regulations and higher capital, large banks in the United States are far stronger.”

The other major topic of discussion was the interest rate scenario in the country. Dimon stated he is not worried about negative interest rates in the U.S. The more worrying factor is “seeing interest rates rise faster than people expect.” This may lead to heightened volatility in the market.

On the global front, Dimon expects that China’s growth will not be “the smooth, steady growth it has had over the past 20 years.” JPMorgan has about $19 billion of exposure in the country. Notably, in a severely stressed scenario, the company projects losses worth $4 billion from its China exposure. Dimon, further, commented “We do not expect this situation to happen, but if it did, we could easily handle it.”

On the topic of Brazil facing recessionary trends, Dimon stated the JPMorgan has no plans to retreat. The company has about $11 billion exposure in the country and stands to lose $2 billion, under an extremely stressed scenario.

Another important global headline in focus is ‘Brexit’. Giving his views about this matter, Dimon said, “The range of outcomes of a Brexit is large and potentially unknown.” He, further added, “…this scenario will result in years of uncertainty, and this uncertainty will hurt the economies of both Britain and the European Union.”

Hence, by touching on various important topics, Dimon tried to alleviate some of the investor concerns. At the same time, he discussed in detail his views on a number of important matters that are currently dominating the headlines and the efforts JPMorgan is making to handle the present economic environment.

Currently, JPMorgan carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Some better-ranked finance stocks include The Blackstone Group L.P. BX and Legg Mason Inc. LM. Both these stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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