Jamie Dimon: US 'absolutely' right to enter trade war, despite short-term economic toll

  • When asked if the U.S. should be in a trade war with China, J.P. Morgan's CEO said “absolutely we should have entered into it.”
  • “We’re better off dealing with it now, whatever that means for the economy,” Dimon said on stage at the Council on Foreign Relations Thursday.
  • Dimon said he wasn’t in favor of tariffs and “threatening,” but was in favor of resolving issues like intellectual property theft.

J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon did not condemn the White House's decision to face off with China on trade. Even if it's a drag in the near-term.

When asked whether he thought the trade dispute was one we should have entered into, Dimon said "absolutely."

"We're better off dealing with it now, whatever that means for the economy," Dimon said on stage at the Council on Foreign Relations Thursday evening. "I wasn't in favor of the tariffs and the threatening but absolutely in facing the issues."

The 63-year-old CEO highlighted "serious issues" affecting global companies include intellectual property theft, non-bilateral investment rights and non-tariff barriers.

The two largest economies have been locked in a stalemate over trade, each imposing billions of dollars worth of tariffs on each others' goods. Washington and Beijing moved closer to a deal during trade talks this week. But negotiators still need to smooth out details as they push for a final summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump.

"We're glad," Dimon said, adding that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have "made a huge amount of progress." Details matter though, Dimon said.

"We don't want a soybean deal. If they agree to buy $200 billion in goods from us that doesn't fix the problem," Dimon said during the discussion, which was moderated by David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-executive chairman of The Carlyle Group.

The series of tariffs imposed by both countries has rattled financial markets and led to concerns about the effects on both economies. Dimon was optimistic about the U.S. economy though, and said he's not worried about an immediate recession.

"The U.S. is chugging along," Dimon said. "Forget the noise — all the geopolitical stuff affects market but unemployment is going down, and wages are going up, business confidence is high and housing is in short supply."