There needs to be more accountability in corporate America, billionaire investor Carl Icahn told CNBC on Thursday.
He said on "Halftime Report" that there are many people in management who should be fired for their behavior. Icahn added he wants a Securities and Exchange Commission chair who will "hold their feet to the fire."
"Investment bankers go to CEOs of companies and say, 'Look, instead of investing capital, why don't you just buy back your stock, and in three years you'll be out of here and make $50 million. Nobody will criticize you,'" he said. "Instead of building a new factory or new machinery, which will actually help the productivity, which we need so badly in this country."
President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday named Icahn a special advisor on regulation.
Icahn said he's supportive of companies with strong balance sheets that choose to buy back stock, but said more distressed companies should not do that.
"A lot of companies borrow money or have too much debt on the balance sheet and yet use that money that they get to buy back stock instead of investing in their own company," he said. "And that in some way should be controlled."
The current regulatory environment discourages companies from investing domestically, Icahn said.
"The market is good now and you see some GDP growth but I think part of that is you have had very low interest rates over the years. But we can't compete in this country and we can't really give good jobs to the middle class because corporations perceive themselves at war with the government," Icahn said.