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Blackstone Group Inc. chief executive officer Steve Schwarzman said Donald Trump was seeking to defend his economic record in Davos as the U.S. president faces the start of his impeachment trial.
“Here’s somebody who is having the impeachment process start with a trial today,” Schwarzman said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Tuesday at the Swiss resort. “This was a speech to basically say ‘I think we need some perspective and let’s look at what’s happened under this administration. That is not just for domestic consumption, it’s meant to be heard in the broader context.”
The president spent most of his keynote speech at the World Economic Forum lauding the success of the U.S. economy, saying the nation was witnessing “an economic boom the likes of which the world has never seen before.” He said the benefits were widespread and creating a “geyser of opportunity.”
The billionaire co-founder of New York-based private equity firm Blackstone has previously advised Trump and was present in the White House when he announced the first part of the China-U.S. trade deal. Trump’s impeachment trial formally opens in the Senate on Tuesday.
Schwarzman, 72, spoke on the sidelines of Davos where he was one of at least 119 billionaires in attendance at the annual conference in the Swiss mountains.
Blackstone has more than $550 billion in assets under management and is expanding into almost all areas of finance. The firm’s growth in recent years, along with other major PE firms, has been dramatic as the industry pushed into areas that banks pulled back from in the wake of the global financial crisis.
Asked if a decade-long bull market was nearing an end, Schwarzman was optimistic: “This has been an amazing run. Usually you expect some kind of adjustment,” he said. As long as U.S. politics is stable and “we avoid the kinds of major international geopolitical risks, I think we will go on with variability up and down over today’s levels.”
The firm was recently the target of Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren‘s ire, who has singled out Wall Street companies and investors she says contribute to inequality. In November, she assailed Blackstone for going on a “shopping spree” in the wake of the 2008 crisis and buying apartments and single-family homes that had been foreclosed. She also took aim at Colony Capital Inc. and Cerberus Capital Management.
(Updates with comment on markets in 7th paragraph)
--With assistance from Heather Perlberg, Francine Lacqua and Tom Keene.
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