Jamie Dimon in the spotlight
JPMorgan Chase will hold its investor day on Monday after one of the busiest starts to a year that the bank has had in some time.
But while Jamie Dimon, the bank’s C.E.O. and one of Wall Street’s longest-serving current chiefs, is expected to outline his plans for JPMorgan for years to come, he’s also very likely to face renewed questions about who will succeed him — an issue that has come to the fore after rivals’ plans emerged in recent days.
JPMorgan is riding high, having recently agreed to buy First Republic, the latest of its deals to bail out a struggling lender. That underscores just how dominant Mr. Dimon’s bank is now: It has nearly 4,800 branches in the continental U.S., a presence unmatched by any competitor, and its investment bank regularly outperforms its counterparts at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Up 3 percent this year, JPMorgan’s stock has far outpaced its biggest competitors.
In some ways, JPMorgan’s big challenge is figuring out where it goes from here. The bank most likely can’t buy any more lenders, amid anger in Washington over how it was allowed to purchase First Republic. Mr. Dimon and his team are expected to argue that there’s still plenty of room to grow, including by expanding its wealth-management business.
Who will replace Mr. Dimon? He isn’t expected to step down anytime soon (and he is set to collect an extra $50 million payout if he’s still C.E.O. in 2026). But the succession plans at two JPMorgan rivals may re-raise the issue for shareholders:
James Gorman of Morgan Stanley announced on Friday that he planned to depart within the next 12 months, with the firm having identified three “very strong” internal candidates to replace him.
Ken Jacobs of Lazard is reportedly preparing to give up the C.E.O. role, with his top lieutenant, Peter Orszag, expected to succeed him.
JPMorgan hasn’t laid out its succession plans, and the firm has seen potential Mr. Dimon successors leave the bank over the years. That said, analysts say that the top contenders are Marianne Lake and Jennifer Piepszak, who jointly run the bank’s vast consumer operations — and who are expected to speak at length on Monday about how they’re going to integrate First Republic.
Whoever replaces Mr. Dimon has big shoes to fill: He has become the most powerful and influential banking chief, one whose say carries weight in Washington and who has helped the firm navigate multiple crises while building a durable business.
Shareholders may ask questions about thornier issues as well, including the lawsuits JPMorgan faces over its ties to Jeffrey Epstein — Mr. Dimon is expected to testify under oath about the matter soon — and over its failed $175 million acquisition of the fintech start-up Frank.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
Europe hits Meta with a record $1.3 billion data privacy fine. Ireland’s Data Protection Commission announced the penalty on Monday and ordered the social media giant to stop collecting and transferring the personal data of its European Facebook users to the United States in violation of the E.U.’s strict data privacy laws. The ruling comes as the U.S. and E.U. negotiate a data-sharing pact that would give companies like Meta more legal protections when handling users’ data.
The Group of 7 pushes back against China. A joint statement from the coalition defended members’ efforts to diversify their supply chains as an exercise in “de-risking.” It also pushed Beijing to pressure Russia to end its invasion of Ukraine and stop trying to intimidate Taiwan. G7 leaders also wrestled with how to live up to their climate-change commitments.
China bans some sales from Micron. Authorities in Beijing said they had discovered “relatively serious cybersecurity problems” with the American chip maker’s products, which could “seriously endanger” Chinese national security. The move is the latest effort by China to shore up its own chip industry, while turning up the heat on Western companies operating in the country.
Election results in Greece trigger a big rally in stocks and bonds. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of Greece is on the cusp of a new four-year term after his party did far better than opinion polls had predicted. In the run-up to the election, hedge funds had been shorting Greek bonds, betting on more political instability. Greece is close to seeing its sovereign debt return to investment grade, a dramatic turnaround from its disastrous 2010 default.
Does America need so many regional banks?
The question of how the Biden administration will treat bank takeovers in the wake of Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse took on new urgency Friday, when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen reportedly told bank chiefs that more deals may be necessary.
Even after consolidation, the U.S. has thousands of banks. The number of commercial lenders fell from 9,613 in 2001 to 5,002 in 2020, according to a recent congressional report. By contrast, Canada has fewer than 100.
The Biden administration has been largely tough on mergers. Michael Hsu, the acting leader at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, warned last year that unless guidelines were stiffened, “there’s an increased risk of approving mergers that diminish competition, hurt communities or present systemic risks.”
The Justice Department has expressed similar concerns about “the accumulation of market power” in just a few lenders.
But smaller lenders are increasingly facing more scrutiny. After Silicon Valley Bank fell, regulators began weighing a plan to subject midsize banks — those with between $100 billion and $200 billion in assets — to capital requirements and controls similar to those for bigger rivals.
“There are parts of the bank ecosystem that are crying out for consolidation and that is likely to intensify as we see a further tightening of the regulatory regime in the coming month,” Isaac Boltansky, an analyst at BTIG, told DealBook.
Expect resistance to letting big banks get bigger. JPMorgan Chase’s deal to buy First Republic will give America’s largest lender more than 13 percent of the country’s deposits, a situation that critics say raises costs for consumers and harms competition. (That said, JPMorgan isn’t likely to buy more banks and mergers are expected among smaller institutions.)
After the debt limit, could this be Washington’s next big fight?
Debt ceiling talks take on new urgency
The doomsday scenario for default is mere days away, and that’s adding to investor anxiety. Futures trading on the S&P 500 index points to another weak open despite Round 3 of talks scheduled for Monday between President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
June 1 is the “hard deadline” to reach a debt-ceiling deal, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stressed on Sunday. She calculated that the best-case scenario on the so-called X-date — when the government will run out of funds if no agreement is reached — was roughly three weeks away: June 15. (Economists at Goldman Sachs are saying the date to watch is June 8 or 9.)
Ms. Yellen is expected to provide another update to Congress on the government’s cash balance this week.
Democrats and Republicans remain far apart on key issues. Republicans are demanding spending caps, new work requirements to qualify for federal assistance programs and cuts to funding meant to help the I.R.S. crack down on tax evaders. Progress has been made on clawing back unspent Covid relief funding and on capping discretionary federal spending for at least the next two years.
Historically, debt limit showdowns go down to the wire. As always, the rhetoric on both sides has been heated. The wild card this time: Will members of Congress who hold extreme positions refuse to compromise, and sabotage negotiations? “I can’t guarantee that they will not force a default by doing something outrageous,” Mr. Biden said on Sunday, referring to congressional Republicans insisting on deep cuts.
Expect more market uncertainty as signs of investor jitters are growing. According to a Bank of America report published on Friday, investors pulled $7.7 billion out of stocks last week, buying less-risky Treasury notes instead.
“As the U.S. and China coexist, compete, and confront each other to determine who will set the geopolitical rules, they will either court or thwart an emerging group of countries to gain an edge. This new class of influential nations are the geopolitical swing states of the 21st century.”
— Jared Cohen, president of global affairs at Goldman Sachs, citing countries like India, Saudi Arabia and South Korea as important players on the world stage.
The week ahead
For a second straight week, a parade of Fed officials will hit the speaker circuit. And, expect earnings news from big names in retail and tech. Here’s what to watch:
Monday: Presidents of several regional Fed branches — Mary Daly of San Francisco, Raphael Bostic of Atlanta, Tom Barkin of Richmond and Jim Bullard of St. Louis — will speak at various events. Their views on interest rates will probably be a hot topic.
Tuesday: Lowes, Autozone, Dick’s Sporting Goods and BJ’s Wholesale report earnings, giving snapshots on retailers’ health amid climbing inflation.
Wednesday: Nvidia and Snowflake report, offering insight into the markets for computer chips and cloud computing. The Fed releases minutes from its latest rate-setting meeting.
Thursday: Best Buy, Costco and Dollar Tree report.
Friday: The Commerce Department releases data on personal consumption expenditure, a closely watched measure of inflation. The University of Michigan also publishes its latest consumer sentiment report.
THE SPEED READ
The law firms Allen & Overy and Shearman & Sterling plan to combine, in the latest effort by global legal practices to merge in search of growth. (Reuters)
Syngenta, the Chinese-owned agricultural giant, said it is seeking to raise $9.3 billion by going public on Shanghai’s stock exchange. (Bloomberg)
Exxon Mobil reportedly paid over $100 million for the rights to mine lithium, a metal critical to the electric vehicle industry, in Arkansas. (WSJ)
A federal judge struck down an alliance between JetBlue and American Airlines, a victory for Biden administration antitrust officials pursuing cases against the industry. (NYT)
A close look at Representative Mike Gallagher, the Wisconsin Republican pushing American companies to rethink their ties to China. (WSJ)
“Air DeSantis: The Private Jets and Secret Donors Flying Him Around” (NYT)
Best of the rest
Uber suspended its diversity chief, Bo Young Lee, following complaints about an employee panel she hosted. (NYT)
David Zaslav, the C.E.O. of Warner Bros. Discovery, faced pro-writers protests at Boston University, where he was delivering the commencement speech. (Hollywood Reporter)
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