Improving Housing Market Driving Economy: Jamie Dimon
Special to CNBC.com
The U.S. housing market is very close to a bottom and there are already signs its improvement is giving a boost to the overall economy, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon told CNBC Wednesday.
"I believe we’re very close to the inflection point. People look at prices that are still coming down but all the other signs are flashing green," Dimon said during a job fair in New York for hiring veterans.
Housing is more affordable and "the shadow inventory everyone talks about is lower today than it was 12 months ago. It will be a lot lower 12 months from now," he said.
Distressed inventory "is actually coming down, not going up. Homes for sale are about half what they were four years ago. You could come up with a pretty bullish case. If the economy grows, housing gets better, quicker."
He said the U.S. economy is "getting stronger all the time. It’s broad-based, companies are in great shape...Consumers are in great shape."
So are the banks — JPMorgan was one of those that passed the Federal Reserve's latest round of stress tests. The bank was so pleased by this it jumped the gun and announced it was raising its dividend and buying back shares before the official release of the test results.
Dimon believes the threat of a double-dip recessionis behind us.
"No one can forecast the economy with certainty," Dimon said, "but most of us in business [have] got growth plans that have nothing to do with the actual state of the economy. We’re going to always open new branches," do more marketing, hire more people and work to bring in more customers.
Europe's financial problems, at least for now, have been "put to bed," he said, and while he expects China to have a "soft" economic landing, it will still have 7.5 percent growth, he said.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has had 24 straight months of job increases. JPMorgan , he said, has "never stopped expanding," opening branches in the U.S. and around the world even during the financial crisis, and it wants to add 3,000 veterans to its banking and call center staff under the "Hiring our Heroes" jobs program.
If the economy is doing so well why is the Federal Reserve holding interest rates down until late in 2014?
"I think they want to see 300,000 to 400,000 jobs a month for six months before they declare victory" and raise rates, the JPMorgan CEO said. "If that actually happened, I think they might reverse course."
As for the stock market, he said American companies are "enormously valuable, and you can buy them at very good prices. They are among the best companies in the world… You could buy a good piece of America at a very good price."