A weakening outlook for interest rates will dent JPMorgan Chase’s profits somewhat in 2019, prompting the bank to plan in case rates fall even further than expected, Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said Tuesday.
Dimon said he still does not expect zero interest rates in the United States, even as he signaled a further drop in net interest income in 2019 after slashing its forecast in July.
The US central bank cut interest rates in late July to 2.0-2.25 percent and is expected to cut again later this month, a major shift from a year ago when the Fed was raising interest rates.
“I don’t think we’ll have zero rates in the United States,” Dimon said at a financial conference. “We were thinking about how to be prepared for it, just in the normal course of risk management.”
Possible responses to such a scenario include cost-cutting, as well as charging consumers account fees, Dimon said.
The bank now expects full-year net interest income of around $57 million, down from the prior $57.5 million forecast. The forecast earlier in the year had been $58 billion.
Dimon offered a mixed outlook on the US economy, describing consumer and small business confidence as strong, but rued a demise in business confidence from the “best ever” to near the 50th percentile.
Dimon cited a variety of headwinds including Brexit and Hong Kong but fingered trade uncertainty as the most significant factor weighing on capital spending.
“It’s possible that you just kind of have a slower economy,” Dimon said.
Dimon’s comments were broadly consistent with other executives who spoke at the conference, including Citigroup Chief Financial Officer Mark Mason, who described consumers as “pretty healthy” but businesses as more cautious.
“There are a number of factors out there that are creating uncertainty without questions, the tensions going on with trade being a major factor,” Mason said. “There tends to be a cautious tone.”