JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon says “there should have been a pandemic playbook” to tackle the COVID-19 crisis, and the lack of preparation is part of a larger set of problems facing the country.
“As a nation, we were clearly not equipped for this global pandemic, and the consequences have been devastating,” Dimon wrote in his firm’s widely-read annual letter to JPMorgan shareholders.
The outspoken bank CEO went on to provide a laundry list of “flaws” in the U.S. beyond the lack of preparedness for the pandemic, from education to infrastructure, which he argues can be fixed in a non-partisan manner.
Dimon wrote: “Our inner city schools don’t graduate half of their students and don’t give our children an education that leads to a livelihood; our healthcare system is increasingly costly with many of our citizens lacking any access; and nutrition and personal health aren’t even being taught at many schools. Obesity has become a national scourge. We have a litigation and regulatory system that cripples small businesses with red tape and bureaucracy; ineffective infrastructure planning and investment; and huge waste and inefficiency at both the state and federal levels. We have failed to put proper immigration policies in place; our social safety nets are poorly designed; and the share of wages for the bottom 30% of Americans has effectively been going down.”
“We need to acknowledge these problems and the damage they have done if we are ever going to fix them,” he said.
‘America was an idea borne on principles’
If there’s a silver lining to the current coronavirus crisis, it’s “forcing us to work together” and “improving civility and remind us that we live on one planet.”
“I am hoping that civility, humanity, empathy and the goal of improving America will break through. We have the resources to emerge from this crisis as a stronger country,” Dimon added.
He went on to sing America’s praises as the “most prosperous nation the world has ever seen” built on plentiful natural resources; friendly neighboring countries; and rights and values including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and freedom of speech, religion and enterprise.
“These gifts have led to the most dynamic economy the world has ever seen – one that nurtures vibrant businesses large and small, exceptional universities, and a welcoming environment for innovation, science and technology,” he wrote. “America was an idea borne on principles, not based upon historical relationships and tribal politics. It has and will continue to be a beacon of hope for the world and a magnet for the world’s best and brightest.”
‘There will come a time when we will look back’
All said, the 64-year-old executive remains hopeful that this crisis can bring people together to recognize “our shared responsibility, acting in a way that reflects the best of all of us.”
“As we have seen in past crises of this magnitude, there will come a time when we will look back and it will be clear how we – at all levels of society, government, business, healthcare systems, and civic and humanitarian organizations – could have been and will be better prepared to face emergencies of this scale. While the inclination of some will be to finger-point and look for blame, I hope we can avoid that. I also hope we can avoid people using times of crisis to argue for what they already believe. We need to demand more of ourselves and our leaders if we want to prevent or mitigate these disasters.”
According to Dimon, attacking these problems would help the country prepare for these catastrophic events and “create better economic outcomes for everyone” and “strengthen America’s role in the world.”
“If we acknowledge our problems and work together, we can lift up those who need help and society as a whole,” he wrote. “Business and government collaborating together can conquer our biggest challenges.”
Julia La Roche is a Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.