scorecardJamie Dimon says there's something shameful going on with the mortgage market
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Jamie Dimon says there's something shameful going on with the mortgage market

Jamie Dimon says there's something shameful going on with the mortgage market
Finance3 min read

Jamie Dimon

REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Jamie Dimon says many disadvantaged Americans are being left out in the cold when it comes to homeownership.

Multitudes of would-be first-time homebuyers have been stymied in their pursuit of an iconic piece of the American Dream in recent years.

JPMorgan top boss Jamie Dimon finds the whole thing unsettling.

JPMorgan had plenty to crow about during its Q1 media call Thursday, in which the company beat earnings and reported some record numbers. But during the call, Dimon took the opportunity to air some concerns.

In an impassioned speech, he said there is dysfunction in the mortgage market that he thinks has cut lending by up to $500 billion a year, boxing out many of the Americans who would benefit the most.

His comments were based on a March 31 report from JPMorgan's fixed income strategy team, which said that "under an early 2000s lending regime, another $500bn of new purchase loans could have been extended in 2016."

"If that number is right, shame on us" for not doing something about it, Dimon said.

A primary culprit, in his eyes, has been overzealous government regulation in reaction to the financial crisis.

Dimon's message Thursday echoes his letter to investors released in early April. In the letter, Dimon described homeownership as the "embodiment of the American Dream," and lamented a slow housing recovery, which he blames in part on mortgage credit restrictions.

He acknowledged that in the wake of the financial crisis "we needed to create a safer and better functioning mortgage industry," but he said the response was excessive and created new problems.

Dimon described the complex web of government oversight that dampened banks' willingness to lend:

"Seven major federal regulators and a long list of state and local regulators have overlapping jurisdiction on mortgage laws and wrote a plethora of new rules and regulations appropriately focused on educating and protecting customers. While some of the rules are beneficial, many were hastily developed and layered upon existing rules without coordination or calibration as to the potential effects.

The result is a complex, highly risky and unpredictable operating environment that exposes lenders and servicers to disproportionate legal liability and materially increases operational risks and costs."

The result, according to Dimon, has been more expensive mortgages for consumers and less access to people without a sterling credit history.

He cited the following charts in his shareholder letter as evidence of how lending has dried up for borrowers with lower credit scores:

JPMorgan mortgage lending chart


JPMorgan lending standards chart


And in a not-so-subtle jab at pro-regulation pushers, Dimon notes that the people they're trying to protect have lost the most from the industry's heightened governmental scrutiny. He wrote:

"It's noteworthy that those who lost access to mortgage credit are the very ones who so many people profess to want to help - e.g., lower income buyers, first-time homebuyers, the self-employed and individuals with prior defaults who deserve another chance."

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