Lloyd Blankfein said he isn’t sure he can trust China’s official economic data.
“I don’t know; how do I know?” the Goldman Sachs Group Inc. chief executive officer said today when asked at a DealBook conference in New York if he thinks China manipulates government statistics. “I’m not taking it that they are.”
Blankfein drew laughs with his carefully worded response to interviewer Andrew Ross Sorkin’s question about whether he believed China’s numbers. “Do I believe the numbers? I believe there are numbers,” Blankfein replied.
“I’m not sure they’re measuring things in the same way,” he said. “I’m not sure they’re collecting the information the way we would, in as sophisticated, metric-oriented” a way, he said.
Blankfein, who has said his New York-based firm remains committed to China after ending a seven-year investment in the country’s largest lender last year, said the economy there is poised to overtake the U.S. and that he’s optimistic about its long-term prospects. He said this could be China’s century, in the same way the U.S. dominated the 20th century.
China’s government has struggled to win the trust of investors and economists for data ranging from gross domestic product to trade figures. Li Keqiang, who became premier in 2013, said in 2007 that GDP figures were “man-made” and “for reference only,” according to a diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks in 2010.
Ma Jiantang, head of the National Bureau of Statistics, said last year that his agency has gained better control over the data through a direct reporting system that limits local officials’ ability to manipulate the numbers.
Blankfein said China is most pivotal for the global economy next year because its economy is almost the size of the U.S.’s and has a wider range of potential growth, which he said was 4 percent to 9 percent.