Dimon sees ‘carrots and sticks’ approach to COVID vaccines

While JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon would like the bank’s employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine, he said it’s unlikely to require the shots at least for now.

“It’s hard to make it mandatory. There are laws about that,” Dimon, chief executive of the biggest U.S. bank, said in an interview Monday on Bloomberg Television. Some firms, such as airlines or hotel companies, may attempt requiring vaccines, he said. “I think what we’d like to do is have carrots and sticks. We want people to take it.”

Dimon, who turns 65 later this month, has made the case for a broader return to the office, saying his firm has seen “alienation” among younger workers and that an extended stretch of working from home could bring long-term economic and social damage. He’s also expressed concerns about productivity among certain groups.

Dimon has opened up to the idea that remote work brought on by the pandemic will lead to permanent shifts in how businesses operate.

Andrew Harrer

About 20% of staff across the firm had returned to JPMorgan’s offices in New York by mid-October, executives said at the time. Members of the bank’s senior operating committee, including Dimon, spent time working from the bank’s offices for most of the summer in an effort to show that newly reconfigured offices were safe.

Dimon has opened up to the idea that remote work brought on by the pandemic will lead to permanent shifts in how businesses operate, saying Monday that it “will reduce the need for commercial real estate.”

“There will be a large portion who permanently work in the office —
think of our branches, cash management, probably most of the trading floor,” he said. But he also foresees others working under a hybrid model, going into offices some days and working remotely on others.

N.Y.C. recovery

That shift could complicate the recovery of New York City, where JPMorgan is based and Dimon was born and raised. JPMorgan, for its part, is in the process of building a massive new headquarters in midtown Manhattan.

“New York could have a little bit of a difficult time,” he said. “Already real estate needs will come down. Most of us are going to go to more open seating because you don’t need 100 seats for 100 employees — you’re going to need like 60. Then if you have higher individual taxes and higher corporate taxes, that does a pretty good job driving people out, as does crime, inhospitable business environment. New York can fight back — it’s just got to have a real strategy.”

Dimon’s comments come almost a year to the day from when he was rushed into emergency heart surgery for an acute aortic dissection, a serious condition involving a tear in the large blood vessel branching off the heart. He temporarily handed control of JPMorgan to his lieutenants just as the coronavirus pandemic started to rattle the global financial system, but was back at work four weeks later.

In response to a question Monday about how much longer he’d like to stay at the helm of the bank, he provided a familiar answer: “Five years.”

Here are other comments from the interview:

  • Dimon urged investors to be cautious about special purpose acquisition companies, also known as SPACs. “Clearly there’s a lot of hype. There are a lot of sponsors that you shouldn’t be doing business with. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do them, and it doesn’t mean there aren’t some good ones.”
  • He also said lawmakers should be cautious about overdoing stimulus efforts. “There’s a very good chance you’re going to have a gangbusters economy for the rest of this year and easily into 2022. The question is: Does that overheat everything? We just don’t know yet. I would worry more about Covid and nuclear war than I’d worry about that.”
  • He said he sees a “pretty good chance” of interest rates going up. “I’ve been very clear, I would not buy 10-year Treasuries.”

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