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Morgan Stanley CEO: GOP plan for 20% corporate rate would stimulate the economy

  • U.S. corporate taxes within the 20 percent range would help the economy, according to Morgan Stanley Chairman and CEO James Gorman
  • Gorman is hoping the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates at least three times next year: "We need to get back to normal"

U.S. corporate taxes within the 20 percent range would be a plus for the economy, Morgan Stanley Chairman and CEO James Gorman told CNBC on Thursday.

Rates in the world's largest economy are currently 35 percent, versus 15-25 percent in major jurisdictions elsewhere in the world, he explained. "For the U.S. to be so much off market, it's going to lead to corporations doing things you would not normally do in terms of shifting revenues offshore, the kinds of inversions we saw a few years ago, etc."

"Right now, anywhere in the 20s would be a very positive thing and stimulating for the economy."

The House and Senate are currently working on separate tax overhaul plans in hopes of passing a bill for President Donald Trump to sign by year-end. Trump wants to give an immediate cut, arguing that it will spark job and economic growth. Earlier this month, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the president would prefer a 2018 reduction, but seemed to open the door to a one-year delay.

"The administration knows that they if don't get this tax plan done, 2017 was a wasted opportunity," Gorman continued.

James Gorman being interviewed in Davos, Switzerland, January 21, 2016.
David A. Grogan | CNBC
James Gorman being interviewed in Davos, Switzerland, January 21, 2016.

House Speaker Paul Ryan echoed similar sentiments on Wednesday: "[If] we don't get this done, those companies sitting back and waiting for us to fix this tax code are going to leave," he told CNBC.

Although most agree a tax cut could be beneficial to some parts of the U.S. economy, many worry it could make the country's budget deficit even worse.

Lower taxes won't lead to overheated inflation, Gorman added.

"We're still seeing incredibly low rates of inflation. The worry has been that it hasn't heated up enough. At some point, it kicks. You can't have unemployment approaching 4 percent and not have wage pressure. At some point, wage pressure kicks in."

On the topic of bank deregulation, Gorman said he anticipated gradual progress.

"We're not going to see a complete redo of Dodd-Frank, nor should we ... We're going to see some sensible, pragmatic common-sense changes to eight years of regulation ...Things won't happen in a dramatic way, but it will definitely happen."

"We've hit the peak of bank regulations," he predicted.

Regarding the Federal Reserve, the CEO said he agreed with market expectations for continued interest rate increases.

"Markets are pricing in an 80-85 percent chance ... I think that's a done deal," Gorman said, referring to expectations for the central bank's upcoming December meeting. "I do think we'll have at least, hopefully, three rate increases next year. We need to get back to normal."

In response to reports that the White House is considering Mohamed El-Erian for Fed vice chairman, Gorman called the former Pimco CEO and current Allianz chief economic advisor "a very credible candidate."

—CNBC's Jacob Pramuk and Matthew J. Belvedere contributed to this story.