Blankfein Says Summers May Overstate Chinese Blow to U.S. Power

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers may be overstating the significance of a China-led infrastructure bank in denting America’s global leadership, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. head Lloyd Blankfein.

In an April 5 column, Summers described the U.S. losing its role as “the underwriter of the global economic system,” as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank found increasing support, including from traditional U.S. allies.

“Larry is a great intellectual and also a columnist and, as a columnist, he says things in an extreme way,” Blankfein, Goldman’s chairman and chief executive officer, said Wednesday at a Tsinghua University dialog in Beijing. “The United States has not been the sole underwriter of the system for a long time, and its influence and its economic power didn’t suddenly erode that minute.”

Although the U.S. has yet to join the $100 billion bank, allies such as Australia, the U.K., South Korea, Germany and France have signed up.

“One can still think the U.S. made a mistake” and it should have been more open to sharing the governing structures of a post-World War II order to reflect current economic power, Blankfein said at the dialog, attended by more than 400 people, including students, academics and reporters.