Key Words: Head of U.S.’ largest bank says central banks are fueling a sovereign debt bubble, negative-rates won’t ‘end well’

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Jamie Dimon doesn’t have much positive to say about negative interest rates in Europe and Japan or public policy in the United States during the past decade.

The JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM, -0.08%  Chairman and CEO blasted the policy of negative interest rates adopted in Europe and Japan during an interview Wednesday with CNBC, while arguing that economic growth in the U.S. could have been nearly double its actual rate if the government policy had been better.

Dimon took aim at fiscal and other economic policies in place at the U.S. federal level. “Over the last 11 years, we had, like, 23% growth,” he said. “We should have had 40 plus, which would have been normal. It was our own bad infrastructure policy, work skill policy, litigation, regulation, taxation, some of which got fixed,” that led to such sluggish growth, he said.

The only thing I have trepidation about is negative interest rates, QE and the diversion between stock prices and bond prices and yields and stuff like that. It’s kind of one of the great experiments of all time and we still don’t know what the ultimate outcome is…Do you know anybody who has actually bought a negative interest rate bond? The buyers are central banks and insurance companies or index funds or passive funds. I would never buy a negative interest rate bond, unless I was forced. In history when you see something like that, it doesn’t necessarily end well.

– Jamie Dimon

Dimon also warned that the U.S. and global economy are vulnerable to a spike in inflation that could put central banks on their heels.

“The biggest surprise would be inflation, any kind of inflation in the United States. People think that central banks around the world can do whatever they want. They can’t,” he said during an interview from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“They will have to be reactors instead of just actors. If you see consequences going a certain way. They’re intelligent, looking at all the factors seeing what to do, but that would be the big negative surprise.”

He also said that negative rate policy was driving up prices for sovereign debt, as central banks buy up government bonds to move interest rates lower. When asked if sees any bubbles in financial assets, he said, “only in sovereign debt.”

President Donald Trump has taken an opposing view of negative interest rates, appearing to encourage the Federal Reserve to adopt the policy in response to the European Union, Japan and other economic rivals.

“We’re forced to compete with nations that are getting negative rates, something very new,” Trump said during a speech Tuesday at Davos. “Meaning, they get paid to borrow money, something I could get used to very quickly. Love that.”