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The biggest bank in the world's largest economy just posted record quarterly results showing U.S. growth continuing to start the year. But how long can it last?
According to J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, the expansion that began after the 2008 financial crisis has no expiration date. The New York-based company reported profit and revenue Friday that exceeded expectations on the strength of its core Main Street lending operations.
"If you look at the American economy, the consumer is in good shape, balance sheets are in good shape, people are going back to the workforce, companies have plenty of capital," Dimon told analysts during a conference call.
"It could go on for years," he added. "There's no law that says it has to stop. We do make lists, and look at all the other things: geopolitical issues, lower liquidity. There may be a confluence of events that somehow causes a recession, but it may not be in 2019, 2020, 2021."
Fears that a recession is on the horizon spiked last month, when bond markets gave signals that economic confidence is dimming the further you look out. A segment of the yield curve inverted, meaning that short-term debt yielded more than longer-term bonds, a phenomenon which often precedes recessions.
But that signal isn't a perfect predictor, and Federal Reserve officials recently left open the possibility that improving economic conditions could warrant a rate increase.
If a recession did happen in the short term, the most likely cause would be a breakdown in trade negotiations between the U.S. and China, Dimon said. But overall, the game of recession prediction is fool's play, he said.
"Some confluence of events at some point in the future will cause a recession," Dimon told reporters during a separate media call. "I don't know what those are, nobody knows what those are, and nobody will ever know what they are. If you knew what they were, you would be unbelievably rich."