James Gorman isn’t worried about how a possible recession and bear market will affect his bank.
The Morgan Stanley
chief executive said Monday that he is “pretty relaxed” about the impact of a possible U.S. recession, a scenario he called a 50-50 proposition based on historical experience.
“We’re in a brave new world right now. I don’t think anyone can accurately predict inflation one year from now,” he said at an investor conference. The government said Friday that the consumer-price index hit its highest level since 1981, and U.S. stocks tumbled again Monday, along with cryptocurrencies and other risky assets, to put the S&P 500 in a bear market, as defined by a 20% decline from its Jan. 3 recent high.
But Gorman cited a backdrop of strong balance sheets for corporations and consumers as reason to be optimistic that a recession wouldn’t be severe or last a long time. And while the stock-market selloff has hampered Morgan Stanley’s investment-banking business in the short term, the weak market also is reason not to worry, he said.
“We’ve had plenty of cycles where things look shaky and the market tells a different story,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I’m totally relaxed, but I’m pretty relaxed.”
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