Schwarzman Sees Growth Signs Amid Washington ‘Infighting’

Blackstone Group LP Chairman Stephen Schwarzman said the U.S. economy is showing hopeful signs, particularly on housing and energy, as “Washington infighting is at its worst.”

Schwarzman, 65, told the New Jersey State Investment Council at its annual meeting in Trenton today that the U.S. shift away from importing fuel is one of the best signals of long-term growth.

“What’s happening in the energy business is really exciting,” said Schwarzman, who co-founded Blackstone, the world’s largest private-equity firm, in 1985 with Peter G. Peterson. New Jersey in 2011 committed to investing as much as $1.8 billion in Blackstone funds.

Schwarzman defended private equity, which became a source of rancor during the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign as Democrats sought to portray Republican nominee Mitt Romney, co-founder of Bain Capital LLC, as a multimillionaire who benefited from acquiring and dismantling struggling companies and firing employees.

“One thing we do at our firm is create jobs, contrary to what you may read in the press about private equity,” he said.

Blackstone, with ownership interests in 80 companies, created jobs at a rate of 4.6 percent in 2011, compared with the U.S. rate of 1.3 percent, he said. Its companies include SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., Hilton Worldwide Inc. and Michaels Stores Inc. and employ 750,000 people, he said.

The U.S., if it followed Blackstone’s success, wouldn’t have such a high unemployment rate, he said.

Schwarzman said he also sees positive signs globally, especially in China, where he said “something sort of amazing is going on” even as analysts see that economy slowing.

“They’re still cranking along at three to four times our growth rate,” he said.

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