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BlackRock's Fink Voices Concerns With Trump Tax Plan -- 2nd Update

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04/29/2017 | 03:36am CEST
By Sarah Krouse 

BlackRock Inc. Chief Executive Laurence Fink cast doubt on the viability of the Trump administration's tax plan, saying that if the proposal adds to the country's deficit, it will create a "severe issue."

Mr. Fink, who runs the world's largest asset manager, also called the possibility of sustainable 3% growth unlikely. Part of the challenge the U.S. faces, Mr. Fink said, is demographics. Baby boomers, the largest living generation in the country is aging, reaching retirement age.

"With our demographics it seems pretty improbable to see sustainable 3% growth," Mr. Fink said at an investing conference hosted by research firm Morningstar Inc. in Chicago.

Earlier Friday, the Commerce Departments said gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced in the U.S., rose 0.7%, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, in January through March. That marked the economy's weakest quarter since early 2014.

A reduction in immigration could further erode growth, taking away one of the "major engines of growth," Mr. Fink added.

On taxes, Mr. Fink said lower rates "unquestionably" can stimulate more investments by businesses and will filter into the economy, but that the president's proposal adds to the country's deficit at a time when it is already "on the path of having explosive deficits."

Mr. Fink said growth between 2.25% and 2.75% was more realistic, noting savings from tax cuts should be channeled into an infrastructure stimulus program.

Even with the stock market at record highs, Mr. Fink said the U.S. is "decelerating."

"We're growing slower than France. That's really terrible," he said.

Notably, France's economy expanded by 0.3% quarter-on-quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis in the three months through March after growing 0.5% at the end of 2016, according to statistics agency Insee. The country's economy expanded by 0.8% in the first quarter from the prior-year quarter.

Part of the U.S. slowdown is related to questions over the new administration's agenda, Mr. Fink said.

Write to Sarah Krouse at [email protected]

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