Sam Zell: Oil Prices Will Spark Mass Conservation

Consumers will respond to soaring oil prices with mass conservation measures, investor Sam Zell said Friday on CNBC.

"I think the American people and the rest of the world will cut the use of oil in the next 12 months to levels people never thought were possible," Zell said in a wide-ranging interview.

He said the oil price spiral is not being dictated by pure demand and is instead subject to psychological pressures from a market that has been scared into thinking that things are worse economically than they truly are.

Zell put some of the blame for that on the presidential candidates.

"I think the political candidates are contributing to a lack of confidence and I think we have more a problem in confidence at this point than anything else," he said. "We've had a Democratic battle and each went out of their way to see if they could characterize the economy as worse, and that has an impact on the population."

Zell also praised the Federal Reserve for its rate-cutting policies, saying the central bank probably did as much as it could to help the flagging economy and stave off inflation.

"The Fed has done a very good job with this whole situation," he said. "If I had any criticism at all I would have suggested they acted earlier."