President's Address 'Business Focused': Schwarzman

Stephen A. Schwarzman
Stephen A. Schwarzman

President Obama's State of the Union address was "business focused" and is part of a welcome move to the center, a major private equity player and sometime critic of the president told CNBC Wednesday.

"I think that is clearly happening," Stephen Schwarzman, founder and CEO of the Blackstone Group said in a live interview with CNBC's Maria Bartiromo at Davos.

"It is clearly really central to an economic recovery. Previously there was sufficient antagonism and uncertainty," he said. (Watch video)

Schwarzman called the focus on business "a huge shift."

Among other things, the president called for a cut in corporate taxes and greater investment in research and development.

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Schwarzman, who recently relocated to Paris on a temporary basis for undisclosed reasons, said: "I was critical [of the president] because I felt things weren't being done correctly. I think the last election shows the American people actually agreed in the same way. There has been so much responsiveness, and a drive to the center."

The president's apparent move to the center has resulted in a rise in the polls, with his approval rating climbing back above the 50-percent level.

Overall, he said the president's address was "really good", citing the "affirmation of the American Dream." Schwarzman, however, said he found it "a little disappointing on the deficit side" because Obama "did not come down hard enough on that."

The president called for freezes in spending, but gave a somewhat lukewarm endorsement to the deficit reduction commission's recent report, saying he "agrees with some of it"

Davos 2011 - See Complete Coverage
Davos 2011 - See Complete Coverage

Schwarzman also acknowledged a pick-up in parts of the US economy and said he continues to invest in commercial real estate, especially hotels. He added that the shopping center business had hit bottom and are "coming up."

Buying debt and converting to equity, "still has very good returns," Schwarzman said.