06/13/2013 12:36 pm ET Updated Jun 14, 2013

Blankfein Blames Economy's Problems On America's Negative Media, Culture

Americans' negative attitudes about the economy are holding back growth, according to Lloyd Blankfein.

"[The] economy is not a science, it's a social science," the Goldman Sachs chief executive told Politico reporter Ben White in a live-streamed interview Thursday. When people are gloomy about the economy, they get scared and that can hold back economic growth, he explained. "[The] culture of America has gotten too negative," he said.

Blankfein acknowledged that there are "worries on the horizon, but a lot less than before."

He added: "I'm optimistic, but I will say there's a moment where sentiment is more negative than the facts command. And sentiment matters." The 58-year-old CEO also said that the media has played a significant role in fueling the country's bad attitudes. When asked what some of the potential solutions were for the problem, Blankfein said "less negative reporting" would help.

It's not hard to find reasons for America's bad attitude. The country is currently in the midst of the weakest labor-market recovery since World War II. The unemployment rate still has not returned to pre-recession levels. And the jobs that are being created are mostly low-paying, HuffPost reporter Mark Gongloff recently noted.

Hourly pay has grown by just 2 percent per year, on average for the past four years, the weakest four-year stretch on record, according to a July report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The data points are sunnier for some large companies: Corporate profits are at record highs and, until just recently, the stock market was setting records. Blankfein personally has been doing well, pulling in $26 million in 2012, a 73 percent increase from the previous year.

Blankfein, who's been Goldman's CEO since 2006, is having something of a moment in the media lately, as the New York Times noted in a separate piece on Thursday. Reporter Susanne Craig writes that Blankfein's "regrown a beard and come to embrace the limelight, giving speeches on gay marriage and education, and attending celebrity Oscar parties."

In the Politico interview, Blankfein took issue with the piece, which suggested that Goldman president Gary D. Cohn is frustrated with his number 2 role at the firm. Blankfein told Politico's Smith that the piece was "gossipy" and that he would "debate the facts."



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