Blackstone CEO on Why Capitalism Isn’t the Problem

2020-02-23 10:51:29    阅读:596803

It should be the best of times for Stephen Schwarzman, At 72, he is chairman, chief executive and co-founder of The Blackstone Group, a giant investment firm that manages $554 billion in assets. He is one of Americas richest men, with a reported net worth of over $18 billion. Hes known the last five presidents, including the current one for 30 years. He is a noted philanthropist, with a particular emphasis on education, an area where he also has public policy prescriptions. (Exempt teachers from income tax and seed classrooms with volunteers to restore the U.S. to competitive math and reading levels globally.) And he recently published his first book, What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence, and its a bestseller, with readers particularly charmed by Schwarzmans recounting of his early days as an insecure, novice dealmaker on Wall Street. Yet public opinion has shifted and billionai今期特马资料图 reseven capitalismare increasingly out of favor in America, a country that has long celebrated its richest citizens. Rising income inequality has given a boost to the campaign of Democratic presidential contender, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has proposed an ultra-millionaire tax and a billionaire tax that has caused growing unease on Wall Street as Warren remains solidly in second place in the Democratic polls. In a recent interview at his office high above Park Ave., Schwarzman said the problem was income insufficiency for some Americans, not income inequality and warned that proposals like Warrens are potentially harmful to the broader economy. Overall, he sees more political and geopolitical risk than economic risk in the roaring stock market, although some recent events have given him pause. He says, If you take a WeWork, where you have a company that has no prospect of making money for the foreseeable future, valued on some basis that retrospectively was nonsensical, except people actually put money up at these very high prices; and the concept of companies that will never become profitable being a good thing, when you hear things like this, you shake your head and say, Did somebody actually say that?    Related Stories      Ideas   Why You Can’t Resist Running YellowLights         

 

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Why the Wells Fargo Scandal Really Matters   Your book What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence has 13 pages of acknowledgments. But I was most struck that you included your therapist. How long have you been in therapy, and how has that helped you? My internist referred me to a therapist in 1990 when I was considering getting divorced, but I didnt know anything about how you got divorced. Im still seeing that individual. He is a terrific coach and observer of the scene and a brill

iant tactician in terms of understanding small-group interactions. Income inequality is one of the defining issues of the upcoming election. Youre the CEO of Blackstonewith an estimated net worth of more than $18 billion. Are you worried about a revolution or at least a wealth tax? There are a lot of people now who are starting to, with a very developed knowledge basis, respond to a lot of these issues. Steve [Rattner] wrote a very perceptive op-ed about why these proposals dont work, or worse. They can destroy potentially some major aspects of the American economic system. On the other hand, the reason that you have populism increasing is because at least 25% of Americans are in a disadvantageous position economically, and I dont refer to it as income inequality. I refer to it asbecause theres always been wealthy people in Americaincome insufficiency. How did we get here? It doesnt have anything to do with capitalism, per se. It has to do with the fact that the world changed. Whats happened is that weve stopped adequately preparing our population for the world that were living in, let alone the world of the future in the information age. This is a political problem. This is not a capitalism problem.

Get The Brief. Sign up to receive the top stories you need to know right now.   Thank you! For your security, we've sent a confirmation email to the address you entered. Click the link to confirm your subscription and begin receiving our newsletters. If you don't get the confirmation within 10 minutes, please check your spam folder. Given the record heights of the market, what do you worry about now? I think the biggest risks are political and geopolitical. Theyre not economic. Those are the things I worry about. Alan Greenspan famously tracked cardboard boxes as economic indicators. What do you monitor? We each have our own favorite things. In the non-statistical variety, I have a few signs of when you are at a top. One of them is when your not-so-gifted friends start getting very rich. Youve known the President for 30 years, and he selected you to head the now disbanded Strategic and Policy Forum. Do you think hes doing a good job of leading the country? Everybodys got their own view. Mine is not going to help the sum total of knowledge. I

think that in the areas where Ive been more active, which are economic, that I think were making actually good progress in the trade area with China. Youve recently been given a high honor by the President of Mexico for your work on the trade deal. Do you worry about walls and a less hospitable environment to global trade? The world generally is moving to more populism, more nationalism. Part of this has to do with the Internet and social media. If you talk to the people running governments around the world, theyll tell you its increasingly hard to run a liberal democracy. Theres almost no issue today where very small groups of people arent basically attacking the majority. And defeating what a majority wants to get their own way. Do you think thats happening in this country now? Of course it is. Contact us at editors@time.com. Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

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