Dimon: Recession could be worse than market crisis

A passer-by walks past an electronic stock board in downtown Tokyo Friday, Oct. 10, 2008. Japanese shares nose-dived more than 10 percent in morning trade Friday as panicked investors dumped stocks following massive overnight losses on Wall Street and on growing fears over a global recession. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 974.12 points, or 10.64 percent, to close the morning session at 8,183.37. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)
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NEW YORK (AP) -- The economy's downturn could end up being worse than the recent crisis in the financial markets, JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon said Wednesday at a banking conference.

"We think (the recession) could be deep; we don't know how deep," Dimon said. "We think the economy could be worse than the capital markets crisis."

He said the government's actions to pump cash into the financial system have been "powerful medicine" to help fix the dislocated financial markets. But even an eventual normalization in the markets "may not stop us from having a deep recession," Dimon said.

Many people still can't get financing, he said. And the troubles are so widespread that companies all over the world are stuck with bad investments on their hands and running for cover. Referring to billionaire investor Warren Buffett's adage about finding out who's been swimming naked when the tide goes out, Dimon said: "There are people swimming naked everywhere."

Financial institutions around the world have been slammed by both deteriorating consumer credit and turbulent financial markets.

JPMorgan Chase on Wednesday ratcheted up its expectations for losses from deteriorating home equity loans. The bank's home equity loan losses could rise as high as $850 million over the next several quarters, Dimon said. That was up from last month's forecast of losses of as much as $800 million in the coming quarters.

Expectations for losses from other loans - credit cards, subprime mortgages and prime mortgages - were the same as on Oct. 15, when JPMorgan reported an 84 percent drop in third-quarter earnings.

The bank anticipates credit card loss rates of about 5 percent in the fourth quarter, 6 percent at the beginning of 2009, and 7 percent by the end of 2009. It also expects subprime mortgage quarterly losses as high as $425 million in early 2009, and prime mortgage quarterly losses as high as $300 million.

"We have tightened consumer lending considerably," Dimon said at Merrill Lynch's banking and financial services conference in New York. He added, though, "We're still lending. We're still in business."

JPMorgan Chase shares fell $1.70, or 4.7 percent, to $34.65, Wednesday in afternoon trading.

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