There’s nothing on the horizon that’s indicating the next financial crisis is going to happen anytime soon, according to Tony James, executive vice chairman at the Blackstone Group.
Roughly a decade after the last financial crisis roared across the global, the situation is “definitely safer” because banks are more sturdy, risk and compliance procedures are improved, regulators are more vigilant and businesses are less likely to be engaged in risky behavior, James said. In fact, there appears to be some time before a problem rears its head, he told CNBC on Saturday at the annual Singapore Summit.
“The last crisis was a terrible crisis, but it was both a financial crisis and an economic downturn. Right now, I don’t see any economic downturn on the horizon, so it will be a little while before I think you have that confluence of factors,” he said.
On top of that, James said he does not see the same “kind of excess and lack of risk systems, and the interconnectedness” that characterized the global financial crisis a decade ago.
Still, James — who reportedly has a net worth well above $1 billion — acknowledged that the nature of financial shocks means they are unpredictable, so it is hard to know when stresses building.
“That’s one of the thing that makes crises crises: They always surprise you somehow,” he said.
Many economists, analysts and executives have pointed to the ongoing U.S.-China trade war as a likely trigger for a global crisis, but James described himself as an “optimist” on that front.
“There are certainly rivalries between the countries, but I believe their mutuality of interest will, at the end of the day, mean they come to some kind of agreement,” he said.
Washington and Beijing have already applied tariffs to $50 billion of each other’s goods. The U.S. is also considering additional tariffs for which China has warned it would retaliate.