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JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon on how the government can solve inflation: it can’t

The Federal Reserve has one big move: interest rate hikes. And the central bank just hiked rates by three-quarters of a point for the third consecutive time this week. But its previous rate hikes haven’t quite done the trick yet.

In August, the annual inflation rate hit 8.3%, according to the Consumer Price Index released last week. Month-over-month percent changes in the overall CPI inflation rate are lower than earlier in 2022, but many experts wonder if it’s enough—especially as the prices of basic expenses like food and shelter continue to rise.

Jamie Dimon has another idea.

He was testifying before Congress on Thursday with other Wall Street CEOs, and fielded a typically folksy line of questioning from Senator John Kennedy (R-La.). “I don’t want to brag about the expensive places I’ve been, but the night before last I went to the grocery store. Inflation is gutting the American people like a fish,” Kennedy said Thursday during a Senate committee hearing with the CEOs of seven of the biggest U.S. banks

Kennedy’s comment elicited chuckles in the room, but it’s true—grocery prices are a runaway expense for most American consumers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ August food at home index, which calculates price changes on a broad basket of groceries, jumped 13.5% over the last 12 months. That’s the largest annual increase since 1979. 

“Now we know what our Federal Reserve is doing on the monetary side, but I want to ask you what you think we should do—we meaning the federal government—[should do] on the fiscal side?” Kennedy asked the panelists.

“I think a little less fiscal spending would be good,” Dimon responded, noting that the U.S. had spent 30% of GDP over the last two years—a move he called “literally unprecedented.” 

When asked by Kennedy if the government needed to get “off the backs of the American people in terms of regulation,” Dimon agreed. 

“That would be helpful, I think, particularly for small businesses,” Dimon said. “I don’t want to sit here and complain about big companies, but I urge everyone to take 10 small businesses out to lunch and ask them what it was like to live through federal, state, and local regulations—even if they have one store. And that could help a lot.”

Dimon also noted that the federal government should also be considering actions around continuing to improve the supply side of the equation: taxation, immigration regulation, health care, and infrastructure is permitting bill  

“If you did some of those things, you will help grow the economy through its inflation,” he said. Rather than pure tax cuts, Dimon noted that taxation should be calibrated to create more growth.

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Accenture integrates with Toshiba to provide consulting services to drive emission reductions

Accenture integrates with Toshiba to provide consulting services to drive emission reductions

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Santos gets $1.4B offer for PNG LNG stake from Papua’s state oil company (OTCMKTS:STOSF)

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Santos (OTCPK:STOSF) said it received a binding conditional offer from Kumul Petroleum Holdings, Papua New Guinea’s national oil and gas company, to buy a 5% interest in the PNG LNG liquefied natural gas project for US$1.4B plus ~$300M in project finance debt.

Santos (OTCPK:STOSF) said Kumul paid $55M to be held in escrow to secure the offer, which will remain open for acceptance until December 31 and is conditional on Kumul obtaining waivers on some pre-emptive rights by other PNG LNG project partners.

With the sale of a 5% stake, Santos (OTCPK:STOSF) would own 37.5% of the project, still ahead of operator Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) with 33.2%, while Kumul Petroleum would own 21.8%, with the remaining shared between Japan’s JX Holdings and Papua New Guinea’s state-owned Mineral Resources Development Co.

Santos (OTCPK:STOSF) became the largest shareholder in PNG LNG, Papua New Guinea’s largest resource project, with its takeover of Oil Search Ltd. last year.

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U.S. steel industry activity rate slides to lowest since January 2021 (NYSE:NUE)

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U.S. raw steel production fell 0.6% to 1.683M net tons in the week ended September 24 while the capability utilization rate slipped to 76.4%, its lowest rate in 20 months, according to the latest weekly report from the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Adjusted YTD raw steel production through September 24 totaled 66.418M net tons at a capability utilization 79.6%, down from the same period last year when 69.208M net tons were produced at a capability utilization of 81.0%.

Potentially relevant tickers include (NYSE:X), (NYSE:CLF), (NYSE:NUE), (STLD), (SLX)

The AISI also reported the U.S. imported 2.51M net tons of steel in August, including 2.084M net tons of finished steel, down 6.2% and 8.4% Y/Y, respectively, from July.

YTD total and finished steel imports are up 8.8% and 28.7%, respectively, compared with the same period in 2021.

Nucor (NUE) recently warned it expects Q3 earnings of $6.30-$6.40/share, well below Wall Street estimates.

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