Blankfein Says U.S. Will Have to Suffer Through Spike in Viruses

Lloyd Blankfein said the U.S. will have to stomach a spike in virus cases as the economy reopens because stimulus efforts can’t go on indefinitely.

The formerGoldman Sachs Group Inc. chief executive officer said the Federal Reserve has done a good job responding to the coronavirus crisis, but fiscal stimulus may reach a point where it triggers higher U.S. borrowing rates. Policy makers can’t afford to wait for a vaccine to reopen the economy, he said.

Infection rates will inevitably rise “unless we are going to hunker down until a vaccine comes up or until the virus is obliterated from the face of the earth, which I think is too long to keep people on welfare,” Blankfein said Monday in a Bloomberg Television interview.

The Federal Reserve warned last week that asset prices could suffer should the coronavirus pandemic deepen. Chairman Jay Powell has also said the U.S. economy will recover from the virus outbreak, but the process could stretch through the end of next year.

“People are going to be very critical if the official sector sacrificed more than it needed to,” Blankfein said, “because at the end of the day, the exposures are going to be almost the same.”

Blankfein departed Goldman Sachs at the end of 2018 after leading the firm through the last financial crisis and the decade-long recovery that followed.

The U.S. has been financing the stimulus through borrowing, and Blankfein called investors’ willingness to accept low interest rates extraordinary.

“We shouldn’t let this go to our heads,” the former CEO said. “Who knows when our investors in the U.S. paper decide they need to be compensated a lot higher for the risk they are taking.”

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