By Jennifer Ablan and Trevor Hunnicutt
NEWYORK (Reuters) – BlackRock <BLK.N> Chief Executive Larry Fink said on Friday the European Central Bank will need to purchase equities to stimulate Europe’s economy, and that leaders should find ways to have investors embrace an “equity culture” there.
“I don’t see how if they (the ECB) do more easing, which means – deeper negative rates – I don’t know how that transmission (works) in the economy,” Fink told Reuters in a telephone interview, following BlackRock’s earnings results.
BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager, and Fink is widely followed by investors, traders and economists for his views on financial markets and the global economy.
“European equities trade at multiple points below the U.S. because they don’t have an equity culture,” he said. “I am a big believer that Europe needs to find ways to have the Europeans focusing on investing for the long term through equities.”
German news magazine Der Spiegel cited central bank sources on Friday as saying ECB President Mario Draghi planned to restart purchases of government bonds by November to support the fragile euro zone economy.
The magazine also said Draghi hoped the move would encourage companies to invest more and consumers to spend more.
Fink said loose monetary policy has been most effective in the United States because of Americans’ longstanding embrace of equities and their exposure to that market.
“It makes sense in the U.S. economy,” he said. “It makes much less sense in economies where most of the pool of assets of individuals are sitting in a bank account. I see negative impact. That is why I’ve always questioned monetary policy without a large, I would say, equity culture. That’s really what’s happened in Japan and in Europe.”
Fink said the monetization of financial assets in Europe, especially now with over 50% of its debt yielding below zero, “actually harms the psychology of savers. So this is why I believe Europe has not grown to the extent of the U.S.”
He also said Europe has been “so reliant on monetary policy and so little fiscal policy. That will be one of the long-term mistakes of Europe.
“Unfortunately, the only name in town is the ECB,” Fink said. “They’re trying to do whatever they can do to do it. I think now with all the negative rates, and with 82% of savings in a bank account, I just don’t see how that transmission works as well as lowering rates in the United States.”
(Reporting by Jennifer Ablan and Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Tom Brown)