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Fed 'free lunch' end won't hurt us: AutoNation CEO

Consumer confidence will get a boost when the Fed increases interest rates for the first time in nine years, AutoNation Chairman and CEO Mike Jackson said Tuesday.

"Let's face it, these interest rates have been an absolute free lunch for six [or] seven years. And a free lunch can't last forever," he said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

"I actually think to begin to increase rates gradually would be a clear signal to everyone that the absolute [financial] crisis is over."

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The debate on Wall Street over whether the Fed's initial move will happen in September or December could depend on Friday's release of the July employment report and other upcoming major economic data points.

"We may not be happy with where the U.S. economy is with GDP growth at 2 percent. Clearly it needs to be greater for America to feel like it's going in the right direction," Jackson said. "[But] we don't need zero interest rates to function as an industry. So we'll handle the gradual [hike in] interest rates that are coming."

He said the auto sales released Monday show "the industry clearly on its way to 17 million [units], as we've forecast."

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