First, the bad news. JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon warned investors in his annual letter that the bank's earnings "will be down meaningfully in 2020."
This shouldn't come as a major surprise to anyone. For one thing, interest rates have plunged to record low levels, which could put pressure on the bank's profit margins. And more significantly, with a bad recession in the forecast for much of 2020, there's a strong possibility that banks could see loan defaults pick up.
Dimon cautioned that the economic effects of the coronavirus crisis will be at the same level as the 2008 financial crisis at a minimum.
JPMorgan Chase will be just fine
Now for the good news. Dimon wants to reassure investors that this is not 2008 in terms of the strength of the banking industry and that JPMorgan Chase won't need a bailout. He said that the bank will certainly participate in any government programs designed to help the economy weather the coronavirus storm (such as the CARES Act's small-business lending program), but that it won't need any government help itself.
While there's no way to know how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last, or how deep the resulting recession will be, Dimon believes that the bank will come out of it just fine. In addition to passing the Federal Reserve's most recent stress test with ease, the bank has run its own (worse) stress test that factors in a 35% plunge in GDP and 14% unemployment persisting until the fourth quarter. Even then, JPMorgan Chase would have strong liquidity and more than adequate capital levels.
The bottom line is that the coronavirus outbreak certainly will be a negative catalyst for the business, JPMorgan Chase is in strong financial condition to make it through the tough times. In fact, the bank emerged from the financial crisis in an even stronger position than it went in due to its high asset quality and relatively strong financial shape, and it wouldn't be surprising if the same thing happened again.