BlackRock CEO Larry Fink says U.S. stands to lose big long term in the trade war

The U.S. is winning the trade war with China in the short term but stands to lose significantly over the long term, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said Thursday.

Basing his view on recent travels through Europe, Fink said his clients worry that over time the damage could be as severe as companies choosing China over the U.S. as a place to build and the dollar losing its status as the world’s reserve currency to the Chinese yuan, also known as the renminbi.

“In the short run the United States is a big winner,” Fink said at a Yahoo Finance conference in New York.

“The greatest problem that I see, and this is what I’m hearing from our clients, is this unilateralism that the United States has been taking,” he added.

The White House has leveled a series of tariffs against China, the most recent being a move targeting $200 billion in Chinese imports, which will see a 10 percent duty. China has retaliated against a smaller set of U.S. goods.

Most economists believe the actual economic impact of the higher prices resulting from the tariffs will be minimal.

However, Fink said the moves could hurt the U.S. on the global stage.

“The world is probably less economically safe,” he said. “One of the great foundations of the world — we all felt secure that this multilateralism would stabilize the world. Now that this multilateralism is breaking down, populism is rising, focusing on the individual needs of a country. Those issues could, and I’m not saying will, could create more volatility and could present greater problems.”

BlackRock is the largest money manager in the world, with $6.3 trillion in assets under management and offices around the world.

During his discussions with European clients, Fink said he heard worries about U.S. policy actions and that “the behavior of the United States is leading more and more non-U.S. companies to pivot more towards China.”

In addition, he also heard concerns that as China continues to grow and the U.S. isolates itself, the dollar could lose its status as the global reserve currency, though probably not anytime soon.

“Those are all the uncertainties, and we’ll see how this all plays out,” Fink said.


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