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WORDS WITH FRIENDS

Jamie Dimon used the words “Latinx” and “carbon” for the first time in JPMorgan’s annual letter

Reuters/Jeenah Moon/File Photo
Jamie Dimon.

JPMorgan chief Jamie Dimon had a lot to get off his chest: The head of America’s biggest bank wrote his longest shareholder letter since becoming CEO 16 years ago, clocking in at 66 pages. Some new words also made their debut in his popular annual missive, like Latinx, carbon, and booming.

“Latinx,” a gender neutral word often used for people of Latin American cultures, was the mostly widely used new word during Dimon’s tenure, according to a Quartz analysis of JPMorgan annual shareholder letters, while “carbon” came in second place. The shift in prose gives a sense of how the world has changed during a year that was wrenched by a pandemic and social upheaval over inequality—through the eyes of one of the world’s most powerful bankers. (Some words like “Morningstar” and “AXP” refer to sources of data in the footnotes.)

Here are some examples of how Dimon used these words in the letter:

  • Latinx

“We have committed employee time and talent to tackling communities’ greatest challenges. In 2020, employees participated in nearly 50 Service Corps programs to help local nonprofits; mentored hundreds of Black and Latinx young men as part of The Fellowship Initiative; and supported local organizations focused on racial equity.”

  • Carbon and GHG (greenhouse gas):

“A carbon tax (with a commensurate carbon dividend—directly returned to the people) is an excellent way to dramatically reduce carbon while investing in communities most adversely affected by this much-needed transition.”

“The key metric we plan to use for evaluating climate performance is carbon intensity, which is a measure of GHG emissions per unit of output. Using intensity will enable us to evaluate the relative efficiency of companies and to adjust for factors such as size, clearly showing which are performing the best (or getting better).”

“In 2020, we funded over 280,000 PPP loans for more than $32 billion—the most of any lender—to companies that employ a total of 3+ million people. We are especially proud that we helped some of America’s smallest businesses: childcare centers, social service agencies, schools, grocery stores, physicians’ offices and restaurants. In fact, half of our loans went to companies with fewer than five employees.”

  • Vietnam:

“Our nation is clearly under a lot of stress and strain from various events: the COVID-19 pandemic, of course, which has taken more American lives than the total lost in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War combined, resulting in acute economic distress for millions more; the brutal murder of George Floyd and the racial unrest that followed; the divisive 2020 presidential election, culminating in the storming of the Capitol and the attempt to disrupt our democracy; and the seemingly inevitable, but nonetheless alarming and unnerving, rise of China, threatening America’s global preeminence.”

“In Vietnam, when a major city once had a rat population problem, the government devised what it thought was an easy, foolproof solution: Pay people to kill rats. All people had to do was bring in a rat tail to be paid. What the government didn’t consider was that people would breed rats for a supply of rat tails to sell.”

  • Autocratic:

“Autocratic and authoritative leadership works well when you can manage top down and you are starting from a very low base. China’s recent success definitely has its leadership feeling confident. Many believe that America is in permanent decline and that democracy is failing. Regardless of their opinions, we should neither over- nor underestimate them. Only 100 million people in China effectively participate in the nation’s one-party political system. No other developed nation has such low participation. Growing middle classes almost always demand political power, which helps explain why autocratic leadership almost always falters in a larger, more complex economy.”

  • Booming:

“While equity valuations are quite high (by almost all measures, except against interest rates), historically, a multi-year booming economy could justify their current price. Equity markets look ahead, and they may very well be pricing in not only a booming economy but also the technical factor that lots of the excess liquidity will find its way into stocks. Clearly, there is some froth and speculation in parts of the market, which no one should find surprising. As Captain Louis Renault said in Casablanca, ‘I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!'”

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