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Goldman Sachs management expects 'benign' 2020 economic environment

Management at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. believes the macroeconomic environment improved in the fourth quarter of 2019, and they expect a "benign" economic environment in 2020.

Improvement in corporate sentiment as well as stronger deal activity in the fourth quarter were indicators of a better economic environment, chairman and CEO David Solomon said on the investment bank's fourth-quarter 2019 earnings call.

But there are still headwinds, Solomon said, including sluggishness in Europe and the trade war with China. The company expects the U.S. to continue to grow at about a 2% rate, management said.

"The highly most likely outcome is we have a relatively benign economic environment in 2020," Solomon said.

Against this backdrop, Goldman Sachs has still seen "considerable" deposit growth in both the U.S. and the U.K, according to CFO Stephen Scherr. Looking ahead, the company is waiting on Brexit to decide where to move next in Europe.

"Germany is a name that has come up several times," Scherr said. "There are no immediate plans," he added.

The investment bank's primary growth plan in its alternatives business is to increase institutional capital. Solomon said institutional investors appreciate that Goldman Sachs' alternatives platform is "broad, global and deep" and operates across categories.

"That is very attractive to large institutional capital raisers, and we have not traditionally attacked or partnered with them across this broad platform," he said. The bank plans to unveil more details, including a five-year plan, during its upcoming investor day on Jan. 29, Solomon said.