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Economy Has No 'Real Lift,’ Says Wilbur Ross

Thursday, 4 Apr 2013 | 5:04 PM ET
Wilbur Ross, the billionaire chairman of private-equity firm WL Ross & Co.
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Wilbur Ross, the billionaire chairman of private-equity firm WL Ross & Co.

A lumbering U.S. economy is not growing fast enough to create jobs, billionaire investor Wilbur Ross told CNBC on Thursday.

"I think the economy is going to continue to lumber ahead," he said in a "Closing Bell" interview. "There's not real lift. There's not real top-line growth and top-line growth is what makes jobs."

Housing is the one area of the economy that is growing strongly, however. And that is a result of the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing program, Ross said.

(Read More: Spring Swoon Could Be Coming Soon to Economy and Stocks)

"I think QE has done a few good things," he said. "It's certainly true it's contributed to the stock market bubble and the bond market bubble, but it's also true that it's helped reignite the housing industry which is one of the very few strongly health parts of the economy."

He said that the combination of pent-up demand since the break in the housing market in 2008 and very low interest rates, which has made housing more affordable, have led to the resurgence.

A distressed business investor, Ross is finding opportunities—"strangely," he said—in shale gas.

"The prices are not very strong for the stocks despite the fact that the actual price of natural gas has gone from a low of $1.90 to over $4 today," he said. "There's a real disconnect between the physical price of the material and the price of the securities."

(Read More: Shale Boom Sparks US Industrial Revival)

He sees two ways to take advantage of the energy revolution, which may change the U.S. economy in a positive way. One is through the exploration and production companies themselves, Ross told CNBC, saying his firm has been a big investor in EXCO Resources for a while.

The other is through marine transport of energy products. "Eventually there's going to be huge export markets for both (petroleum and natural gas) coming out of the U.S.," Ross said.

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