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Fink: U.S. investment would improve if everybody in Washington would just get along

Laurence D. Fink

Fewer political stalemates in Washington and more infrastructure investment would boost foreign direct investment in the U.S., Laurence D. Fink, chairman and CEO of BlackRock (BLK) told international investors gathered for the federal government-sponsored SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit on Thursday.

“I am very bullish on America, but Washington is making it more difficult for me to remain bullish. The narrative right now is forcing everyone to put a pause button on; we need a narrative to be much more pro-opportunity,” Mr. Fink said at the summit in Washington.

“If we can see a little bit of progress inside the Beltway, I think the confidence will come back,” echoed Mark Wiseman, president and CEO of the C$172.6 billion (US$164.1 billion) Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Toronto. “The only thing that's missing today in the U.S. economy is confidence.”

“From our perspective, (investing in the U.S.) is the biggest opportunity we see in the world,” Mr. Fink said. As he travels around the world, “every conversation I have is about how (foreign investors) can find more opportunities in the U.S.”

Positive signs for foreign investment into the U.S. include rebounds from banking and housing crises, and growth in the energy sector, but Mr. Fink said another big challenge is the lack of public capital for infrastructure projects. “The money is there from the private sector. It is imperative that we make (infrastructure spending by governments) a priority in the future,” Mr. Fink said.

A new report issued Thursday by the Commerce Department and the president's Council of Economic Advisers shows the U.S. as the world's largest recipient of foreign direct investment, with inflows of $166 billion in 2012, and $3.9 trillion in net U.S. assets of foreign affiliates.