Anthony Scaramucci to Trump: CEOs holding back spending because China tariffs are too unpredictable

Key Points
  • Corporate leaders want clarity from President Trump on the long-term plan for dealing with China, says ex-White House aide Anthony Scaramucci.
  • "We don't know where things are going," says the Skybridge Capital founder. "CEOs large and small are slowing down business investments."
  • Scaramucci says China is doing a better job than the U.S. in laying out its longer economic goals.
Anthony Scaramucci, former director of communications for the White House and founder of SkyBridge Capital LLC, speaks during the Skybridge Alternatives (SALT) conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 8, 2019.
Joe Buglewicz | Bloomberg | Getty Images

American CEOs want more clarity from President Donald Trump on China so they can better plan their business spending needs, former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci told CNBC on Thursday.

He also said China is doing a better job than the U.S. in laying out its longer economic goals as the world's two largest economies engage in a trade war.

"Preparation and planning are the hallmarks of winning a war," Scaramucci said in a "Squawk Box" interview.

He cited China's Belt and Road Initiative, which began roughly six years ago with a focus on building rail and maritime trade routes connecting China with central Asia, Europe and Africa.

"They care less about the people on the ground than we would because they don't stand for election," said Scaramucci.

"The White House should really tell people what the plan is," said Scaramucci, founder of the Skybridge Capital hedge fund. "Here's the problem: We don't know where things are going, and U.S. corporate CEOs, large and small, are slowing down business investments."

Scaramucci pointed to the government saying that capital spending tumbled 5.5% in the second quarter, the worst since the fourth quarter of 2015, while personal spending rose 4.3%, the best showing in six quarters.

Economists are wondering how much longer the consumer sector, which accounts for two-thirds of economic activity, can keep carrying growth, which came in at 2.1% in the second quarter. That was down a full percentage point from the first quarter. Gross domestic product estimates for the third quarter were 1.9%, as of last week, according to the CNBC Rapid Update, which tracks Wall Street GDP predictions.

Concerns about the U.S.-China trade war causing a global economic slowdown has slammed stocks this week, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 1.8% for the week, as of Wednesday's close. The S&P 500 was off 1.6% this week ahead of Thursday's trading session.