Although the U.S. economy has its problems, the country holds the potential to rival growth in emerging economies, said Gary Cohn, president and co-COO of Goldman Sachs. Cohn spoke with CNBC at the Goldman Sachs Growth Markets Summit in New York.
"I think the U.S. is stumbling along. That said, we have enormous opportunity in the United States," Cohn said. "We have the cheapest natural gas in the world. We've got an abundant labor force that is willing to go back to work. We've got an enormous opportunity to finance project, there's an enormous amount of capital in the system and capital is looking for a home."
"We have the natural ingredients here in the United States to really see growth and a growth economy," he said.
Despite this potential, Cohn said that Goldman's clients, who are always looking for effective ways to invest in their businesses, have low confidence that they can get adequate returns right now. With a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders, unlocking value in the near term is a major conversation in corporate boardrooms today, he said.
"Whether it be breakups to accrete shareholder value, whether it be increased dividends, companies would much more prefer to invest the capital in the business and growing the business than return the capital, but if there is no better alternative, they have a fiduciary responsibility to return the capital," he said. "You're starting to see more and more of that. I think that's a trend that we'll see for the near-term future."
"The good news," he added, "is that these things can change relatively quickly."
Although the United States may have the potential for growth, Cohn said that he's "very confident" major areas drivers for global growth will be centered in Asia, Latin and South America over the coming years. "Overall, our economists believe that we'll have an excess of 6.5 percent growth in the growth markets," he said.
With many fearing that China is transitioning to a period of slower growth, Cohn said that "no one is 100 percent sure what is going on with the growth in China. What happens, is as China growth expands these countries in the periphery of China — whether it be Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines — end up growing with China because they end up becoming big exporters."