JPMorgan & Co. (JPM) - Get Report CEO Jamie Dimon, an often-suggested candidate for a future Presidential candidacy, waded into the current political debate of the nature of American capitalism Thursday in his annual letter to shareholders of the country's biggest bank.
In a fifty-four page missive inside the lender's annual report that touched on everything from bank regulation to public policy to student loan debt and local democracy, Dimon acknowledged the current debate between socialism and capitalism in the world's biggest economy, but argued that true freedom and free enterprise were "inexorably linked".
Socialism, Dimon said, inevitably produces stagnation, corruption and risks the rise of authoritarian leaders, adding that economies with large companies and a competitive environment are the "true engine of growth in any country".
"Companies in a free enterprise system drive innovation through capital investments and R&D; they are huge supporters of communities; and they often are at the forefront of social policy," he added. "Are they the reason for all of society's ills? Absolutely not."
"However, in many ways and without ill intent, many companies were able to avoid -- almost literally drive by -- many of society's problems. Now they are being called upon to do more - and they should."
"We need dramatic reform of our global and federal institutions and how we attack our biggest societal challenges," Dimon continued. "There are signs of progress, particularly in how local governments are starting to attack pressing problems - the ones that directly affect people's lives, like education, housing and employment."
JPMorgan shares were indicated 0.7% lower in pre-market trading Thursday, indicating an opening bell price of $104.61 each, a move that would trim its year-to-date gain to around 5.3%.
Dimon also touched on banking regulation, stressing that while he wasn't advocating for a repeal of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, better-known by its Senate sponsor nickname Dodd-Frank, it was still appropriate for policymakers to "examine areas of our regulatory framework that are excessive, overlapping, inefficient or duplicative" ten years on from the financial crisis that spawned it.
"At the same time, they should identify areas where banks can promote economic growth without impacting the very important progress we have made on safety and soundness," he said. "In fact, a stronger economy, by definition, is a safer economy."
"Our goal should be to achieve a rational, calibrated approach to regulation that strikes the right balance," Dimon wrote."This should be an ongoing and rigorous process that does not require any significant piece of legislation and should not be politicized "