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Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon on US economic outlook: `We’re in for a very bumpy ride’

David Solomon, chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs & Co.

Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon said Wednesday that the U.S. economy will be hampered by high unemployment and a plodding recovery because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The economic reality is that we are still facing a very, very uncertain economic environment,” Solomon said during a conference held by the Economic Club of New York.

While there has been an uptick in economic activity since the early weeks of the pandemic, a continuing surge in cases has forced several states to halt or reverse their reopening plans. That is happening as millions of unemployed face the end of enhanced benefits while lawmakers debate the contours of the next relief package.

“I think in the next couple of months you’ll see a tamping down of that acceleration, I think you’ll see poorer economic numbers,” Solomon said. “I think we’re in for a very, very bumpy ride.”

He added that the U.S. will “run with very, very high unemployment for an extended period of time” as the services industry in particular will struggle to return to previous levels, even after a vaccine is created.

Solomon said he approved of the financial response to the crisis, as it has staved off widespread suffering by injecting billions of dollars into the bank accounts of workers and businesses. That, along with the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented actions to prop up markets, has helped keep stock indices near all-time highs.

“Markets are disconnected with that at the moment,” Solomon said, referring to his downbeat outlook. “They’re responding to the fact that rates are zero and there’s a conviction for more monetary and fiscal stimulus and that’s obviously bolstered asset prices.”

Over the long term, the U.S. will probably face slower growth, a weaker dollar and a huge debt related to paying for the crisis response. He noted that policymakers were just starting to pull back from the approach necessitated by the previous crisis 10 years ago when the pandemic struck.

“I think it will take an awful long time to navigate our way out,” he said

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