Trump’s unpredictability is keeping North Korea on its toes, says Blackstone’s Studzinski

  • With the U.S. president being unpredictable and by keeping his cards close to his chest he's put certain leaders "very much on their toes," Studzinski said, mentioning North Korea specifically
  • Trump's mandate has so far been marked by several changes in approach compared to his predecessors

The incalculable nature of President Donald Trump's foreign policy may be causing angst across the Western world, but it's also an effective tool against the threat from North Korea, John Studzinski, vice chairman of Blackstone, told CNBC.

"President Trump has a style that on a good day you'd say is nimble. On a bad day you'd say is unpredictable," Studzinski said in a TV interview ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos in January.

With the U.S. president being unpredictable and by keeping his cards close to his chest he's put certain leaders "very much on their toes," Studzinski said, mentioning North Korea specifically.

His unpredictability "may well be an effective tool in dealing with certain types of characters, like the gentleman in North Korea," Studzinski added.

President Donald Trump delivers a speech on tax reform legislation at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2017.
Carlos Barria | Reuters
President Donald Trump delivers a speech on tax reform legislation at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2017.

Trump's mandate has so far been marked by several changes in approach compared to his predecessors, mainly regarding foreign policy. Recently, he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, defying the position of the vast majority of global leaders on the matter. British Prime Minister Theresa May said Trump's decision would not help to put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. France and Germany also condemned the decision.

"There's one thing that world leaders don't like, particularly in the world we have right now with a lot of strong dictators around the world. They do not like the unpredictability of Washington," Studzinski noted.

Studzinski said domestically Trump has performed much better in his first year in the White House. "The stock market has continued to be robust, his laissez-faire attitude with respect to regulation has been seen as a very positive indicator and the markets have responded well to that," he said.

"On the other hand, he inherited something that really began with the (Barack) Obama presidencies, which is a really global shift in the hegemony of America as the sort of center of the world order," he added.

A key moment in this shift was the opening speech at Davos in 2017 by the Chinese President Xi Jinping, where he introduced China as a global superpower at the same time that the U.S. was taking a more inward-looking approach.

"Domestically I think he (Trump) does much better on his report card. In terms of foreign policy I think the jury is still out because he has inherited a much more complicated deck of cards," Studzinski concluded.

For the full interview watch CNBC's special "The Davos Guide" program. Episode 1 airing on Tues Dec 26 at 23:00 CET and Weds Dec 27 07:30 CET. Episode 2 airing on Weds Dec 27 23:00 CET and Thurs Dec 28 07:30 CET. Episode 3 airing on Thurs Dec 28 at 23:00 CET and Fri Dec 29 at 07:30 CET.