NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Income inequality was one of the big themes addressed during last week's Aspen Ideas Festival, and Mark Weinberger, global chairman and CEO of EY -- better known as Ernst & Young Global Limited -- is of the view that businesses should take a more active role in combating it.
Weinberger spoke at the conference about how the private sector can increase economic mobility, and talked with TheStreet's Rhonda Schaffler about that and other economic issues.
Companies should have a social interest in reducing income inequality, he said, but he reminded the audience that there's a business interest as well, given that 70% of GDP growth in the U.S. comes from consumer consumption.
Weinberger said that while government can aid businesses by reducing regulation and lowering taxes, it is up to private industry to take the lead in hiring and providing opportunities. EY, he said, will hire 65,000 people this year, a increase of about 35,000 annually, as the company grows globally across the board.
Among the factors benefiting EY is an upswing in mergers and acquisition activity, he said. By 2020, some 30% of EY's revenue will come from emerging markets. But Weinberger added EY is also seeing strong growth in the United States, and even in parts of Europe, where the economy is weaker. Weinberger said he sees several positive factors in the U.S. economy, including wage growth, falling unemployment, low inflation and low energy prices. At the same time, he is concerned about the slowdown in the Chinese economy, the debt crisis in Greece, and other geopolitical hotspots like Russia.
He also said the strong dollar, combined with uncertainty about when the Federal Reserve will raises rates, dragging on businesses. Weinberger said businesses are focused on several issues in Washington D.C., including what's ahead for tax policy and trade deals.