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Blackstone’s Schwarzman says markets at record levels because Trump-GOP policy agenda is ‘excellent’

By dailymail / Published on Thursday, 22 Jun 2017 12:21 PM / No Comments


The head of the world’s largest asset manager on Thursday directly linked the postelection surge in optimism to the Trump administration’s pro-growth policies.

“The reason I think we have consumer confidence at record levels and markets at record levels and business confidence at record levels [is] because the basic program the administration has is really excellent,” Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

Schwarzman, who chairs President Donald Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, pointed to growth-friendly aspects of deregulation and infrastructure spending.

To be sure, while stocks have climbed to records, measures of consumer confidence and business sentiment have not quite risen to all-time highs.

The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment survey peaked this year at 98.5 in January, the highest in more than a decade. The ISM manufacturing purchasing managers index hit 57.7 in February, the highest since August 2014.

A jump in financial stocks and subsequently technology stocks helped the S&P 500 jump more than 13.5 percent since the election to record highs. Blackstone’s shares are up 37.1 percent in that time.

Schwarzman has said shareholders do not fully appreciate the value of the private-equity firm. He said on his firm’s earnings call in April that Blackstone shares should be trading above $100 a share if they were valued the same way as the average S&P 500 company, based on dividend yield.

The Blackstone CEO said Thursday that the legal structure of the firm prevents some people from buying the stock. New regulation from Washington could change that, but for now, Schwarzman said, “we’re in the middle of a big potential tax reform and you can’t really look much at anything until you see what the rules of the road are.”

Blackstone shares hit a 52-week high of $33.93 a share on June 2 and are up nearly 22 percent this year.