Stop focusing on the 1% and start caring about the average worker, Blackstone's Studzinski says

  • Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Studzinski said looking to worldwide gross domestic product (GDP) as a reliable metric of economic strength was "a bit of a whitewash"
  • Studzinski said that while the gap between billionaires and the rest of the population may make "very good headlines," the question should be: "Is the average worker happier?"

World leaders and media organizations should stop focusing on economic growth and the rise of the super-rich and start understanding the challenges of the average worker, John Studzinski, vice chairman of Blackstone Group, told CNBC Tuesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Studzinski said looking to worldwide gross domestic product (GDP) as a reliable metric of economic strength was "a bit of a whitewash."

"Isn't the gap at the top something the media is obsessed with?" Studzinski said, before adding: "Obviously the media is going to wine and dine on that for a long time and that isn't going to go away."

"I have a feeling that probably will go all the way back to the Roman Empire … So let's stop talking about that and focus on whether the real working class is actually doing better."

'Is the average worker happier?'

On Monday, the WEF warned global leaders had become too reliant on GDP as a way to track success. Instead, it argued lawmakers must recognize the inclusivity of an economy too.

Furthermore, a new study published Monday found widening inequality had resulted in just 42 people owning the same amount of wealth as the poorest 50 percent worldwide. The report, which was carried out by global charity Oxfam, called for action to tackle the growing gap between the super-rich and the rest of the world.

Employees place labels on prybars at the Vaughan & Bushnell Manufacturing Co. facility in Bushnell, Illinois.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Employees place labels on prybars at the Vaughan & Bushnell Manufacturing Co. facility in Bushnell, Illinois.

Meanwhile, booming global stock markets have been seen as the main driver for a surge in wealth among those holding financial assets last year. The founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, saw his wealth balloon by $6 billion in the first 10 days of 2017 — leading to a flood of headlines marking him as "the richest man of all time."

Studzinski said that while the gap between billionaires and the rest of the population may make "very good headlines," the question should be: "Is the average worker happier?"