WASHINGTON - The credit crisis is 75% to 85% unwound in terms of the financial markets, but the economy may still be on shaky ground, Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase told the 1,500 delegates assembled here for the Investment Company Institute’s 50th GMM.“I would say this thing has largely already worked its way through. It probably won’t get worse at this point. Increased capital requirements will take about six months longer” to bring markets and counter-party risk tolerance back to normalcy, Dimon said.However, he was quick to add: “The recession, I don’t know. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”Markets perform in cycles, Dimon reminded executives, listing the 2001 technology bubble, Long Term Capital Management’s overleveraged exposure to Russia in 1997, the real estate and savings and loan crisis of 1990, overvalued earnings in 1987 and the subsequent stock market crash, the recession of 1982 and the oil shortages in 1974.
“The difference in this one is it’s a housing crisis,” said Dimon, who included among those to blame for the subprime crisis those mortgage bankers who failed to properly verify borrowers’ income or appraisers’ real estate assessments.Dimon also praised the government for its swift action in bailing out Bear Stearns and a cadre of more than 1,000 investment bankers at his own firm who, after he got “the Thursday telephone call” about whether or not to purchase the ailing firm, spent the entire weekend performing due diligence on the deal.In answer to a question from an audience member, Dimon exhorted mutual fund executives to continue to bring innovative products to market but to be extremely cautious when doing so.As an example, Dimon said, collateralized debt obligations, CDO warehouses and structured investment vehicles that invested in subprime mortgages are so complex that to try to assess the price in one such instrument, JPMorgan ran a Monte Carlo simulation on one of its mainframe computers for seven hours.Questionable mark-to-market policies also factored into the subprime troubles, he added. But that said, Dimon said he is tired of being “vilified” by the media for bailing out Bear Stearns or operating a bank that itself sold subprime mortgages and products derived from them. And as to banks’ role in making credit and loans too available to the American public, Dimon stressed that the consumers of subprime CDOs and other structured products over the past two years, have largely been institutional and not retail investors.The ICI booked Dimon’s appearance many months ahead of JPMorgan’s recent preeminent role in partnering with the government on the Bear Stearns deal, noted Edward Bernard, chairman of the ICI’s General Membership Meeting Planning Committee, and vice chairman of T. Rowe Price Group.“We thank Mr. Dimon for honoring his commitment” at this exceptionally busy time, Bernard said.

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