Larry Fink (B.A. ’74, ’76), chairman and CEO of BlackRock Inc., was welcomed this week to a conversation with Dean Judy Olian as part of the Dean’s Distinguished Speaker’s Series. The founder of what is now the world’s largest asset management company, with $4.6 trillion in assets under management, shared his insights on the health and risk factors in the world’s largest economies, retirement savings and the responsibilities of corporate boards. His conversation with Olian coincided with his receiving the UCLA Medal from Chancellor Gene Block later the same day.
“For China to ascend further, it needed to really transform its society into a domestic-oriented service economy,” Fink said, noting that China must expand health care and establish an ecosystem for tourism. He pointed out that it’s more affordable for Chinese citizens to vacation abroad in Hong Kong, New York or Los Angeles than in their own country, and carry back goods that are too expensive in their own country — which send trillions of dollars outside China. According to Fink, the world’s second largest economy is shifting rapidly out of low-wage manufacturing and needs a new competitive edge. Most economies, he said, need about 50 years to make the kind of transformation China is aiming for, but China’s trying to do it in 10. Make no mistake: Fink said, “All economies have to go through this transition.”