Cyber Attacks Are Financial World’s Worst Threat, Says Jamie Dimon

Chase CEO cites economic worries in annual shareholder letter.

Jamie Dimon is terrified of cyber attacks. The JPMorgan Chase chief sees them as potentially the “biggest threat to the US financial system,” according to his 2019 annual shareholder letter.

“The openness of the internet means that trolls, foreign governments and others are aggressively using social media and other platforms to confuse and distort information,” he said. He added that trolls should be barred from “secretly or dishonestly” promoting their ideas on any form of media, social or otherwise. “We believe there are ways to address this, and we will be talking more about this issue in the future.”

Dimon praised Europe’s new data protection laws as “the right principles” for dealing with privacy violations, although the policies are admittedly “complex to execute.” He said the US should implement similar nationwide mandates, as individual state laws would create a “virtually impossible legal, compliance and regulatory-monitoring situation.”

The face that runs Chase also worries about the Federal Reserve’s actions, China’s economy, and rising geopolitical tensions. Another big one is the increase of global debt levels. While Dimon said this is currently “generally manageable” because much of the debt is sovereign, or contained within a country, he warned that it is only possible because global growth still occurs.

Slowing growth is a large concern for investors, and it is only becoming more of an issue if a long-awaited downturn occurs. In a recession, this would turn a nation’s debt from “generally manageable” to a big problem, he wrote.  

“America’s debt level is rapidly increasing but is not at the danger level,” Dimon said. “However, our country’s debt level over the next 30 years will start to increase exponentially, and at a certain point, this could cause concern in global capital markets.” The Chase chief said there is still time to “address this problem, but we should start to deal with the issue well before it becomes a crisis.”

The executive assured clients and shareholders that the bank is prepared for a recession, and that there are some positive factors in the global economy. For one thing, Dimon expressed trust  in the American government.

“In addition to the strong US economy, the world is still growing, trade issues may be properly resolved and Brazil, among others, has turned the corner economically,” he said. “If a downturn starts and leads to darker scenarios, we will be prepared, and we also believe the U.S. government will eventually respond adequately.”

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