According to some, it all started with Mario Draghi, who back in 2012 said that the ECB would prevent the collapse of the Eurozone "whatever it takes." By saying that, he effectively took the impetus away from Europe's politicians to engage in any real structural reform and promote difficult policy changes, and well, here we are five years later with a "populist" wave sweeping across Europe which is now ex the UK.
And while few are willing to discuss the topic of Europe's viability in the current regime, JPM's Jamie Dimon broke the tranquil setting of Davis where all remains well, to wanr that Europe needs to address disagreements spurring the rise of nationalist leaders or the region’s strong economic ties will break, warning that politicians must get to grips with the discontent that’s spurring support for populist leaders across the continent.
Dimon said he hoped European Union leaders would examine what caused the U.K. to vote to leave and then make changes. That hasn’t happened, and if nationalist politicians including France’s Marine Le Pen rise to power in elections across the region “the euro zone may not survive,” Dimon, 60, said in a Bloomberg Television interview with John Micklethwait.
Not mincing his words, Dimon warned that "what went wrong is going wrong for everybody, not just going wrong for Britain, but in some ways it looks like they’re kind of doubling down,” the JPM CEO said in the interview in Davos. He continued that unless leaders address underlying concerns, “you’re going to have the same political things about immigration, the laws of the country, how much power goes to Brussels.”
This reminds us of what Jeff Gundlach said during this weekend's Barron's roundtable: when asked "what will we be talking about this time next year" his answer was simple: "Trouble in the euro zone."
As Bloomberg notes, "Dimon’s remarks on Europe were unusually pessimistic, coming in a wide-ranging interview in which he also criticized regulations that he said stunt economic growth. But he reiterated optimism for President-elect Donald Trump. Minutes later, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein also expressed concern about Europe, telling CNBC that leaders are facing a backlash in the midst of a long, complicated process to create an economic bloc."
“That’s complicated, that’s very hard to do,” said Blankfein, 62. “It’s not done, and it’s not accomplished. We’re finding the pain of that.”
The bottom line is the region must become more competitive, Dimon said, which in simple economic terms means accept even lower wages. It also means major political overhauls: “I say this out of respect for the European people, but they’re going to have to change,” he said. “They may be forced by politics, they may be forced by new leadership.”
It is unclear how Europeans will adopt these major "changes" without anger at the establishment growing even more.
Yet while he was clearly concerned about Europe, Dimon said he isn’t as concerned about the future of the U.S. under Trump, whose own rise drew on a populist movement. The reason for that: Trump's decision to surround himself with a "who's who" list of former Wal Streeeters.
The real estate mogul and reality TV star is enlisting “very serious people” for his administration, such as former Goldman Sachs alumni Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, who’ve been tapped to lead the Treasury Department and help oversee White House economic policy.
“The side that people are worried about a little bit, and I think is may be blown out of proportion, is trade,” Dimon said. “They’re listening to tweets and one-liners and statements” from Trump. But in his book, “The Art of the Deal,” the president-elect “will tell you he does that” as a tactic, Dimon said.
Asked about a concerns Trump may start a trade war with China, Dimon said he’s not worried. “I think these very rational people will be very thoughtful when they go about the actual policy,” he said.
Translated: Trump's ex-Goldman advisers will never let him do anything that could hurt Goldman's interests in the US or around the globe.