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Carlyle's David Rubenstein says geopolitical 'black swan' only worry for markets in next two years

  • "The only thing we have to worry about I think in 2018 and 2019 is some unanticipated geopolitical event, the so-called black swan," David Rubenstein, co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, said Tuesday at CNBC's Net/Net dinner in Washington, D.C.
  • "Right now, short of those kind of things, I think the economy's in reasonably good shape and probably going to be spurred on a little by the tax bill," he says.
  • "You have to be cautious when you're buying things because prices are high," Rubenstein says. But "right now the environment is pretty good for private equity."
David Rubenstein
Cameron Costa | CNBC
David Rubenstein

A head of one of the largest U.S. private equity companies said a geopolitical surprise is the only thing for markets to worry about in the next two years.

"The only thing we have to worry about I think in 2018 and 2019 is some unanticipated geopolitical event, the so-called black swan," David Rubenstein, co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, said Tuesday at CNBC's Net/Net dinner in Washington, D.C. He pointed to a possible North Korea missile launch or an event similar to the Sept. 11 attacks.

"But right now, short of those kind of things, I think the economy's in reasonably good shape and probably going to be spurred on a little by the tax bill," he said. Rubenstein said the tax bill should have "very favorable consequences for the economy" and he doesn't see any negative surprises from inflation or the labor market.

Carlyle had $174 billion of assets under management at the end of the third quarter, according to the company.

"You have to be cautious when you're buying things because prices are high," Rubenstein said. But "right now, the environment is pretty good for private equity."

He noted that Carlyle owns about 200 companies, 100 in the U.S. and 100 overseas. "Those in the U.S. will benefit from a lower corporate tax rate and will benefit from the spurring of the [economy]."

In late October, the private equity company said Rubenstein and co-CEO William Conway would step down effective January. In their place, Glenn Youngkin and Kewsong Lee would become the company's co-chief executives.

"They're very well qualified," Rubenstein said Tuesday. "Carlyle's in stronger shape than it's ever been."

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