Ken Griffin, chief executive officer and founder of Citadel Advisors LLC
Ken Griffin, chief executive officer and founder of Citadel Advisors LLC, speaks during the Global Financial Leader's Investment Summit in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023 Image Credit: Bloomberg

Citadel founder Ken Griffin said global investors have to "be watching and investing" in China to tap into the innovation and growth in the region.

"There's much more innovation outside of the United States, relative to 50 years ago," said Griffin, adding that China has competitive advantages in solar and electric vehicle technologies. Griffin made the remarks on Tuesday at the Global Financial Leaders' Investment Summit in Hong Kong.

The billionaire's firms Citadel and Citadel Securities LLC are expanding in China, with Hong Kong housing its biggest office for Asia. Citadel Securities, which focuses on market-making operations, started building out its office in Shanghai before COVID-19 and employed about 10 people on the mainland as of March.

Citadel, the hedge fund, received a Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor license that allows international investors to participate in mainland China's stock exchanges, around mid-year.

The two companies collectively generated $35.5 billion in revenue in 2022. His firms saw 100,000 college applications for 300 intern and full-time positions this year, Griffin said, adding that staff are working five days a week.

Griffin warned that deglobalization could be a "wild card" with a significant impact for inflation, the supply chain and monetary policies.

"We don't know what a world looks like that involves deglobalization," he said, adding that economies have benefited from dividends brought by peace and globalization.

As for concerns about a recession, Griffin expects a slowdown around the middle of next year on the back of higher interest rates that have particularly hurt the private sector. He cautioned that the US government's "spending spree" could drive up the deficit.

"That's pulling forward consumption into the here-and-now at the expense of future generations," he said.