Last year was tumultuous for American producers and producers, as President Trump fought commercial partners around the world. American banks, however, had a ball.
JPMorgan Chase, the country's largest bank, reported record profits on Tuesday, and Citigroup posted its best results since before the 2008 financial crisis.
Chase earned $ 36.4 billion last year, compared to $ 32.5 billion in 2018. He earned $ 8.5 billion in the last three months of last year, also a record. Citi could not match that performance, but its profit of $ 19.4 billion for 2019 exceeded the previous year, and its result of $ 5 billion for the last quarter of the year exceeded the profit it obtained in the same period in 2018.
One reason for its success: the change of 2019 in the financial markets. The end of 2018 seemed to presage an adjustment of accounts as investors worried about the commercial war and Federal Reserve plans to drain the cash from the financial system. But the Fed's rate cuts last year helped markets constantly advance to new highs.
JPMorgan's commercial fixed income revenues in the last quarter of 2019, for example, were 86 percent higher than in the same period last year.
"The quarter was very strong in absolute terms," JPMorgan CFO Jennifer Piepszak said in a call to discuss the bank's results with journalists.
Wells Fargo, which is still recovering from a series of scandals that cost billions of dollars and led to the departure of two successive chief executives, achieved net revenues of $ 2.9 billion for the quarter. That was much better than the $ 6.1 billion he reported for the same period in 2018.
The bank said it was reserving $ 1.5 billion to pay legal costs, but even that did not explain the decline. Executives said it would be a priority for the bank to be more efficient.
The new leader of the bank, Charles W. Scharf, warned that there was still "substantial" work to be done to get everything back to normal.
Wells Fargo has been operating under strict growth bans imposed by its regulators since early 2018. Its former chief executive Timothy Sloan spent months assuring investors that the restrictions would be lifted quickly.
Scharf seemed much more cautious on Tuesday. "I am not sure that any of these public issues will close this year," he said in a call with analysts.
Despite its problems, Wells Fargo distributed $ 9 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases last year.
The largest banks in the country have been delivering earnings reports for several years. Tax cuts, cheap money from the Federal Reserve and strength among American consumers have helped them keep their Olympic results.
And if the status quo works so well, why change it? That was the attitude of JPMorgan's chief executive, Jamie Dimon, when a journalist asked him on Tuesday about the schedule for his retirement. The bank had announced in January 2018 that Dimon expected to be at work for five more years.
Mr. Dimon was still planning to retire in 2023?
“My statement remains the same. It's five years, "Mr. Dimon said curtly. The announcement two years ago, he said," was not an established retirement date. "