ACAPULCO, Mexico BlackRock Inc (BLK.N) Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink said on Friday that China may be the biggest hurdle to global financial markets and that central bankers are adding to risks with negative-interest rate policies.
"China does represent maybe more global risk than anything in the world today," he said at a banking conference in Acapulco, Mexico.
Fink, who heads the world's largest investment management firm, said China's transition from an export-driven economy to a service-oriented economy requires reforming and merging its state-owned companies, which will reduce jobs, while creating more jobs in the service sector. He also said the country is recognising a need to slow the growth of its balance sheet.
Fink also inveighed against negative interest-rate policies by central banks, saying the easy monetary policy stance destroys retirement savings and prevents consumption.
"Just like a relative who stays too long at your house, I think they stayed too long with the same policies," Fink said of central bankers. "Let's be clear: Negative interest rates are terrible."
Fink was particularly critical of Japan's progress on economic reforms. He said the country's aggressive monetary policy - including negative rates - needs to be coupled with a path to faster growth. He said India, too, needed reforms, in its case to the country's bureaucracy.
In the wide-ranging speech, Fink said Europe's economy looks good compared with where the region had been during "the last few years" but that "an inch below the surface it is terrible" given ongoing risks to Europe's banking system.
Yet Fink said he sees a British exit from the European Union as unlikely and described Spain's acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as running "one of the best governments in the world" given significant economic reforms.
Fink also said it is hard for him to see oil prices above $60 or below $30 per barrel for a long period of time.
"We are going to have lower oil prices for longer, and I think natural-gas prices are going to be higher sooner," he said.
He added that Mexico's peso remains inexpensive compared with the U.S. dollar, a potential opportunity for investors.
BlackRock, the New York-based asset management company, oversaw $4.6 trillion in assets globally as of Dec. 31, 2015.
(Writing by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Tom Brown and Matthew Lewis)
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