Wells Fargo CEO Says Global Concerns Pose Biggest Risk to U.S.

Wells Fargo CEO: Biggest Risk to U.S. Is Other Economies
  • There's no way to control those economic threats, Stumpf says
  • In interview, bank chief also says Fed rate hike not imminent

The greatest threats to U.S. growth are forces beyond its borders, Wells Fargo & Co. Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf said.

“The biggest risk to the U.S. economy is what’s happening outside the U.S.,” Stumpf, 62, said Wednesday in an interview with Erik Schatzker on Bloomberg Television. “You can’t control that.”

Stumpf discussed topics such as the level and pace of Federal Reserve interest-rate increases, cybersecurity and the bank’s conservative approach to risk. Fed Chair Janet Yellen has said policy makers should watch global market gyrations and growth prospects outside of the U.S. as they make decisions about benchmark rates. Those concerns probably mean the central bank won’t raise rates too quickly, said Stumpf, who operates the largest U.S. branch network.

“If you look at a weaker global economy, what is going to be the impetus to push long-term rates up?” Stumpf said. “We just don’t see it, at least in the near future. So I think lower for longer will be where we are.”

Recent acquisitions for San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, including assets from General Electric Co. and potentially wealth advisers from Credit Suisse Group AG, fit squarely within the bank’s core competencies, Stumpf said. The firm won’t shift focus from the U.S., where it generates about 97 percent of revenue, he said.

“We tend to have a conservative view and we know what we’re good at, we know what we’re not good at,” he said. “There is so much opportunity here in the U.S.”

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