The steps President Donald Trump has taken to roll back Barack Obama-era regulations and inspire the business community should provide a lift to economic growth, even before promised corporate tax cuts and other measures that take more time are implemented, global investor and real estate mogul Barry Sternlicht told CNBC on Tuesday.
Sternlicht said on "Squawk Box" that he had dinner Monday night with several leading financial figures including fellow property titan Sam Zell, Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein and hedge fund manager Ken Griffin. Trump's first 45 days were a central discussion, the founder of the $52 billion investment firm Starwood Capital Group added.
"They were talking about the things that are being undone," Sternlicht said the morning after the dinner. "That alone would be enough to spur probably a half a point growth in GDP by itself."
Sternlicht said the Trump administration process "seems to be working OK" so far, adding that he's "not disappointed at the moment."
Trump has made the business community feel like "we're going to help the country grow," Sternlicht said. "The one thing I think you see in the animal spirits of the business community right now is an administration that's no longer vilifying the business community. I think that alone makes us wake up and feel better."
While welcoming the prospect of a reduction in U.S. corporate taxes, Sternlicht worries about the uncertainty being created by the border adjustment tax provision being pushed by House Republicans.
The White House has been noncommittal on whether the president supports the border tax, which House Republicans see as a way to help pay for their corporate tax reform package and a way to level the international playing field for trade.
Until there's clarity on whether the border tax will be part of the broader corporate tax overhaul, Sternlicht said there's a risk the debate is "going impede growth." The border tax question could be to American CEOs what the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was to banking executives, he argued, saying CEOs might hold off on investing in their businesses in the meantime.
Sternlicht said it's too early to say whether he supports a border tax on imports. "[But] I would err on phasing things in."