Davos Notes: Blackstone's Schwarzman "Walking with His Head Still On"

At this evening's cocktail reception hosted by Yale University, Richard Levin, the school's president, was discussing the makeup of Obama's stimulus package, which he believes should include fewer tax cuts and more real spending on programs that will accelerate America's move to a green economy. "As industrial production drops, emissions are going to go down," he predicted, "and the sense of urgency to make the transition to green jobs will also go down. We mustn't miss this moment."

A few minutes later, I was talking to Jeffrey Rosen, Deputy Chairman of Lazard LLC (and Yale class of '69), when his classmate, Blackstone group CEO Stephen Schwarzman, walked up, clearly in an upbeat mood (unusual for financial types at Davos this year). He told us that, so far, he'd only been meeting with central bankers: "There is no other business to be done," he said with a shrug. "You are walking with your head high," I remarked. "I'm walking with my head still on," he replied. "That's the good news." The bad news? When I asked him for his estimate of how long the hard times will last, he told me: "Don't hold your breath. And don't buy new clothes."

In contrast, another Yalie, Tom Glocer, CEO of Thomson/Reuters, said that he had just come from a session with former GOP Congressman Chris Shays. "He was the most optimistic person I've run into in Davos," Glocer told me. "I couldn't tell if it was because he wants us all to keep investing or because he really believes it."

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