The economy may not have fully recovered yet, but that’s no problem for America’s biggest bank. JPMorgan Chase reported a record profit of $12.1 billion for the fourth quarter Friday — easily topping Wall Street’s forecasts.
But JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon still sounded a bit nervous about the near-term economic outlook, citing the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The bank said it has credit reserves of more than $30 billion to help act as a cushion in case conditions deteriorate.
Dimon noted in the bank’s earnings release that the build-up in credit reserves “continue to reflect significant near-term economic uncertainty and will allow us to withstand an economic environment far worse than the current base forecasts by most economists.”
Dimon, however, did cite “positive vaccine and stimulus developments” as a hopeful sign for the future.
He added during a conference call with reporters that we could have a “very healthy economy” by the summer — especially if unemployed Americans and small businesses “who desperately need help” get more stimulus payments from the incoming Joe Biden administration and Democratic-led Congress.
Shares of JPMorgan Chase, which were already up 11% so far in 2021 before the earnings report, fell slightly Friday but are still trading at an all-time high.
JPMorgan Chase is also doing better than banking rivals Citigroup and Wells Fargo which both reported mixed results Friday morning.
JPMorgan Chase reported solid gains in its investment banking unit and a healthy jump in trading revenue. The rebound of the stock market has been good for the bank, as has a resurgence in initial public offering activity and deal making.
The bank’s consumer business is still suffering a bit though. Revenue was down 8% in the unit in the fourth quarter as the banks posted declines in net income for its core consumer banking and credit card lending divisions.
JPMorgan Chase chief financial officer Jennifer Piepszak said during a conference call with reporters that the bank does not expect loan demand to pick up that much this year despite the continuation of low interest rates.
The one bright spot in the consumer business? Mortgages. Fueled by a booming housing market thanks to low rates and rising prices as more people are moving to the suburbs, JPMorgan Chase reported a 16% jump in home lending revenue from a year ago.
Dimon said during the call with reporters that the housing market should remain robust, because there is still a supply shortage that is boosting home prices.