President Donald Trump’s economic agenda is fueling a resurgence in the economy that cannot be denied, billionaire businessman and philanthropist Ken Langone told CNBC on Thursday.
“This economy is booming,” said Langone, a longtime supporter of GOP candidates who was not always a fan of Trump. “I think he’s made a lot of moves that are constructive to the economy.”
Since Trump took office, the gross domestic product is growing at a 3 percent-plus rate. The unemployment rate is currently around a 50-year low.
Langone, co-founder of Home Depot, said “every indicator” for the moment is showing a clear path for economic growth.
Transportation companies, often a leading indicator, are doing great, Langone said in a “Squawk Box” interview. “My truck leasing business, we can’t get delivery of new trucks until next spring.”
The corporate tax cut, championed by Trump and Republicans on Capitol Hill, has certainly been a boon to growth, but wiping business regulations off the books has been the main driver, Langone said.
“Deregulation is having a profound impact of the mindset of businesspeople” who are more willing to invest and grow their companies, which in turn translates into a stronger economy, said Langone, also founder and chief of investment bank Invemed Associates.
Langone also said he agrees with J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who told CNBC interview Thursday that the escalating U.S.-China trade dispute is a “skirmish” rather than a trade war.
“Jamie is right. It’s a skirmish. It’s a tactic,” Langone said. “It’s in our mutual interest to fix it. China is better off with a revised deal than no deal.”
The Trump administration on Monday announced tariffs of 10 percent on another $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, rising to 25 percent at the end of the year.
In response Tuesday, China said it will institute retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods worth $60 billion.
The question now is whether Trump will follow through on a threat to put tariffs on the rest of Chinese imports, which totaled $505 billion last year, according to federal data. The president has said he wants to prevent China from stealing U.S. technology and he wants to reduce America’s trade deficit with China, which was $375 billion in 2017.
“Our leaders for the last 25 or 30 years have had their knickers taken off them by our trading partners,” Langone said.
“But here’s where not liking a guy [Trump] gets in the way,” he continued. “Give the guy credit” for keeping campaign promises to make trade fairer for U.S. companies. “That’s unusual for a politician.”
Before backing Trump in the 2016 presidential election, Langone supported Chris Christie, who was governor of New Jersey at the time, and then Ohio Gov. John Kasich.