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Carlyle's Rubenstein: THIS flips script on economy

David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-chief executive of private-equity giant The Carlyle Group, said Monday he's recently shed his concerns about a U.S. economic slowdown in favor a "pretty optimistic" outlook.

He told CNBC's "Squawk Box" that his change of heart developed over the past month or so. Rubenstein said he sees a "real pickup," as the Federal Reserve appears to be on track for a less aggressive approach to hiking interest rates.

This change from the Fed is why he believes the economy is on track for stronger growth.

"Because the Fed is not likely to increase interest rates as much as thought [and] oil prices seem to be stabilizing [and] coming up, I think the global economy and the U.S. economy [are] in reasonable shape," he said.

But Rubenstein warned "reasonable shape" does not mean 5 percent growth.

"It means 1.5 percent growth, which is probably what he can expected for the next couple of years," he said. "We're not going to growth a 5 percent again for quite some time."

"[Economic growth] is not as bad as I had thought it was going to be, and I'm actually pretty optimistic. And I'm not known as a big optimist," he continued. "But I'm pretty optimistic about the next year."

Highlighting global uncertainty, Fed policymakers held rates steady at their March meeting. They also projected two rate hikes this year, half the estimate they forecast in December, when they boosted the cost of borrowing money for the first time in more than nine years.

Rubenstein has a unique view on the economy and the business climate, sitting atop the financial giant Carlyle, with $183 billion of assets under management and controlling interests in more than 200 companies.

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