John Waldron, co-head of the Investment Banking Division, Goldman Sachs
Mike Blake | Reuters
The president of Goldman Sachs said Tuesday that the U.S. economy looks like it’s picking up speed after a lackluster start to the year thanks to easier monetary policy and the resilience of the American consumer.
“We’re pretty constructive on the overall economy. Certainly, in the United States in particular, the economy feels if anything like it might be accelerating again from what had been a little bit more of a patchy 2019,” said Goldman Chief Operating Officer John Waldron.
“I do think the Fed’s easing bias has made a big impact,” he added. “So we’re seeing that implication of easier policy coming through in the economy and it’s become much more of a stimulant for particularly consumers, but corporations as well.”
The president and chief operations officer joined CNBC’s Wilfred Frost in an interview from Goldman’s annual financial services conference in New York.
A string of weaker manufacturing data — as well as persistent trade angst — kept financial markets on edge throughout the summer, dipping in tandem with economists’ views that growth the U.S. economy would ease toward a long-term trend under 2%. Those summertime macroeconomic fears kept equity market in check, with stocks trading sideways through August and September.
More recent jobs numbers — including last Friday’s healthy nonfarm payrolls print of 266,000 — and the Federal Reserve’s three quarter-point interest rate cuts have since calmed those fears and goaded equities to all-time highs in November.
The Goldman exec noted that much of the resilience in the U.S. markets and economy could be attributed to American consumption, which accounts for about 70% of GDP growth and has for the last several quarters offset weaker business spending.
Waldron, who previously served as Goldman’s co-head of investment banking, rose to the bank’s top operations job in 2018 following Lloyd Blankfein’s departure and David Solomon’s ascent as CEO.
Asked about the bank’s plans to push further into the private equity industry, Waldron said it remains an area Goldman views as “a secular growth opportunity” around the globe.
“You can see how hard it is to create alpha in the public markets: More money is flowing into private markets. [And] as I said, we have a long track record,” he said. “So we’re very bullish on the opportunity and we have a scale business. We’re going to be an active player in that arena.”
He added that Goldman’s top brass is expected to outline the firm’s “strategic priorities” at its first Investor Day on Jan. 29 and could offer more detail on its ambitions next month.