Blackstone CEO: US Spirit, Confidence Is Broken

Sunday, 11 Sep 2011 04:29 PM

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The nation’s spirit and confidence have been pushed to the breaking point as economic growth has crawled to a halt, says Stephen A. Schwarzman, chairman, co-founder and CEO of Blackstone Group, an asset management and financial services firm.

“We actually have to re-launch America. It’s not just taxes, it’s not just spending, there’s a spirit and confidence that has been strained to breaking point,” Schwarzman told CNBC.

“We’re a bit like a great athlete who stopped training and gained a bunch of weight, we’ve got to get back into training,” he said.

The Blackstone Group owns many companies around the world, and growth in its portfolio firms has fallen by more than half since the beginning of 2011.

"We can see the economy slowing down. In the first quarter, our companies were growing around 9 and a half percent. In the second quarter, eight. In the last two months, it looks to be around half of that," Schwarzman tells CNBC.

"We can see it getting slower in August than it was in July."

Growth is slowing in both the United States and Europe.

Fears are growing that the United States is headed back to a recession or at best, will remain stuck in a period of sluggish economic growth.
Some compare the economy to a plane sputtering along in stall speed, meaning that if it doesn't gain enough momentum, it will stop running and crash.

Whether the economy officially dips back into a recession or not remains up in the air, but it will likely feel the country is contracting for most people, anyway.

"The chances that we are in something that is going to feel like a recession are close to 100 percent," says Joshua Shapiro of MFR in New York, the New York Times reports. "Whether we reach the technical definition" — which is determined by a committee of academic economists and based on gross domestic product, employment and other factors — "I think is probably close to 50-50."

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