In several senses, it’s not entirely surprising that The Wall Street Journal recently allowed Jamie Dimon to share his thoughts on the domestic and especially global grand strategies the United States should pursue in the post-Ukraine War world.
After all, Dimon heads JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s biggest and most important bank. As a result, he clearly needs to know a lot about the U.S. economy. And as Wall Street’s biggest poohbah, he surely must know a lot about the state of the world overall – in particular since he’s had extensive contacts with the heads of state, senior officials, and business leaders of many countries.
What is somewhat surprising, then, is how little of Dimon’s analysis and advice is new or even interesting, and how much of it could well put America ever further behind the eight-ball.
Dimon’s article wasn’t completely devoid of merit. Since he’s dabbled in some (symbolic) woke-ism himself, it was good to see him seemingly take a shot at what’s become mainstream liberal as well as radical lefty dogma by urging the education of “all Americans about the sacrifice of those who came before us for democracy at home and abroad.”
Given the strong support by the Biden administration and by some finance bigwigs for influential for encouraging and even requiring lenders to take climate change risks into account when extending credit, it was encouraging to read his pragmatic position that “Secure and reliable oil and gas production is compatible with reducing CO2 over the long run, and is far better than burning more coal.”
Dimon showed that, unlike many on Wall Street, he supports some forms of industrial policy to make sure that “we don’t rely on potential adversaries for critical goods and services.”
And he endorsed the larger point that the neoliberal globalization-based triumphalism that undergirded the policies of globalist pre-Trump Presidents needs to be buried for good:
“America and the West can no longer maintain a false sense of security based on the illusion that dictatorships and oppressive nations won’t use their economic and military powers to advance their aims—particularly against what they perceive as weak, incompetent and disorganized Western democracies. In a troubled world, we are reminded that national security is and always will be paramount, even if it seems to recede in tranquil times.”
But on most of the biggest issues and just about all specifics, Dimon either punted or retreated into the same globalist territory that proved as profitable for Big Finance as it was too often dangerously naive for the nation as a whole.
For example, he wants Washington to “fix the immigration policies that are tearing us apart, dramatically reducing illegal immigration and dramatically increasing legal immigration.” Completely ignored is the depressing impact the latter would have on wages that have already been falling recently in inflation-adjusted terms, and on desperately needed productivity growth – as a bigger supply of cheap labor is bound to kill many incentives for businesses to improve their efficiency by innovating technology-wise or devising better management approaches.
And on China, Dimon’s clearly determined to talk his company’s book, insisting that “We should acknowledge that we have common interests in combating nuclear proliferation, climate change and terrorism.” and blithely predicting that “Tough but thoughtful negotiations over strategic, military and economic concerns—including unfair competition—should yield a better situation for all.”
But most important, Dimon fully endorses the foundations of the very globalist strategy that for decades perversely ignored the distinctive and paramount advantages the United States brings to world affairs and has thereby created many of the dangers and vulnerabilities with which the nation has been struggling.
The way Dimon seems to see it, there’s no reason to pay any attention to the extraordinary degree of security the America enjoys merely by virtue of its geographic isolation and powerful military; or to its extraordinary degree of economic self-sufficiency thanks to its immense and diverse natural resource base, its technological prowess, and its dynamic free market-dominated economic system. And evidently, it’s just as pointless to concentrate foreign and economic policy on the nation’s equally formidable potential to build on these advantages.
Instead, like other globalists, Dimon flatly rejects the idea that “America can stand alone,” or should seek to maximize its ability to do so. Instead, it should keep defining nothing less than “global peace and order” as “a vital American interest” – the standard globalist recipe for yoking the country’s fate to an agenda of more open-ended military interventions, more hastily approved and usually wasteful foreign aid, and more nation-building in areas lacking any ingredients of nation-hood.
Asa result, it would anchor America’s safety and prosperity on efforts to shape foreign conditions (over which is has relatively little control), rather than on efforts to shape domestic conditions (over which is has much more control). (For a much fuller description of this America First strategy and its differences with globalism, see this 2018 article.)
In fact, and revealingly, Dimon’s piece was titled “The West Needs America’s Leadership.” If only he and other globalists would start thinking seriously about what America really needs.
(Full disclosure: I own several JPMorgan bond and preferred stock issues.)