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Nasdaq CEO: 'The US economy has been very resilient'

Max Zahn

A market nosedive at the end of last year put traders on high alert for the “R” word—but 2019 instead brought stable, albeit slow economic growth. In a new interview, Nasdaq President and CEO Adena Friedman suggests investors can once again dismiss worries of a downturn anytime soon.

“The economy continues to grow,” she says. “We are continuing to show that the U.S. economy has been very resilient.”

“Overall demand characteristics in the U.S. economy continue to be very healthy,” Friedman, who has helmed one of the largest stock exchanges in the U.S. since 2017, told Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer on Nov. 11.

A survey of the service sector released on Wednesday by the Institute for Supply Management backed up Friedman’s words, showing a slight dip in the measure to 53.9% in November from 54.7%. Any figure above 50 bodes positively for the economy. The report comes after early signs of a strong holiday retail season, including record Cyber Monday sales totaling $9.4 billion.

Friedman acknowledged that a sharper slowdown in other countries may hamper American enterprises that do business abroad.

“To the extent that companies are dependent on other parts of the world, that's something that's company specific as to whether or not there's certain risk there,” she says. “But a lot of companies are doing very well in the United States.”

Friedman made the comments during a conversation that aired in an episode of Yahoo Finance’s “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment. 

An intern at Nasdaq in 1993, Friedman became the company’s chief executive nearly a quarter century later, in 2017. Besides a brief period as chief financial officer at the Carlyle Group from 2011 to 2014, she has spent her entire career at Nasdaq. Last year, Forbes ranked her the sixteenth most powerful woman alive. 

Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman appears on Influencers with Andy Serwer.

A strong economy has not only benefited businesses but also traders, Friedman said, citing recent interest rate cuts that have kept markets attractive for traders.

“The interest rate environment continues to be extremely appealing as an equity investor,” she says. “It’s kind of pushing investors to come into the equities markets and using that as a marker for the health of the U.S. economy.”

“If you're thinking about where you're going to get a return, you're going to get a return in the equities markets more than you're going to get a return on a debt instrument,” she adds.

Max Zahn is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Find him on twitter @MaxZahn_.

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