World’s financial center is moving, Carlyle co-founder says

October 6, 2009

USA/The financial crisis has made the world less focused on the U.S., which will have to face up to the fact that it is not as significant as before, Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein told a large audience at the World Business Forum in New York:

“After World War II we were 48 percent of the world’s GDP; now we are about 20 percent of the world’s GDP… We have to get used to the fact that the dollar is relatively cheap and … that the dollar is probably not going to be the reserve currency that it’s been for so many years.”

Rubenstein said the center of the financial world won’t just be New York, but spread between here, London, Shanghai, Dubai, Sao Paulo and a few other cities.

Rubenstein concentrated particularly on the U.S. economy’s problems, listing issues such as the deficit, inflation, taxes and employment. He said that the U.S. is about two years into the recession and probably has a “month or two to go.”

He listed the areas he thinks are attractive investment opportunities: distressed investing, companies getting support from the U.S. government, energy (both carbon and alternative),  healthcare and emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil.

Among the final tidbits of advice that the private equity chief shot at the audience was to avoid excessive leverage:

“What we learned out of this most recent recession is if you borrow a lot of money it comes home to roost, so I’d avoid leverage–even normal leverage can be very dangerous at times when the economy goes down.”

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