U.S. News

Second Half GDP 'Better Than 3 Percent': Byron Wien

Hedge fund master Byron Wien has a decidedly positive view of the U.S. economy in the second half of the year, he told CNBC Tuesday.

The vice chairman of Blackstone Advisory Partners said trade is doing well thanks to a cheap dollar, while both capital spending and consumer spending are up.

Second-half gross domestic product will be "better than three percent," although he said "that's not terrific."

Wein expects the second half's fundamental backdrop to be positive. "Earnings are still coming through very favorably" and that's what drives stock prices, he said. In addition, Wien said, "I think the budget ceiling will be raised. The [federal] budget will be cut and the European credit crisis will be resolved."

The one dark stain on this rosy picture is persistently high U.S. unemployment. For any recovery to take hold the U.S. needs initial unemployment claims to come down below 400,000, and at least 150,000 to 200,000 jobs must be created, Wien said. That isn't going to happen in the near-term because of "pretty significant" structural changes in the economic cycle, he said.

"This is the first cycle where companies have used capital instead of labor during the recovery," he explained. "Capital spending is good, but it's being used not to build new plants, where you hire workers to fill them, it's been used to buy equipment that allows you to get goods and services out the door with fewer workers."

Wien said the U.S. is "not going back" to a five percent unemployment rate. "We may not see a 5 [percent] again," he said. "We may see a seven [percent] or some number in the sevens at best."