Steve Wynn, founder of the Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN) casino empire, once called President Barack Obama’s administration “the greatest wet blanket to business and progress and job creation in my lifetime.” Barry Sternlicht, chief executive officer of Starwood Property Trust Inc. (STWD), said Obamacare was driving down wage growth and “affecting spending and the desire to buy houses and everything else.”
They are among a chorus of corporate executives and lobbying groups that regularly assail Obama for policies that they say are stifling investment and hurting companies.
Corporate and economic statistics almost six years into his administration paint a different picture. Companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 (SPX) Index are the healthiest in decades, with the lowest net debt to earnings ratio in at least 24 years, $3.59 trillion in cash and marketable securities, and record earnings per share. They are headed this year toward the fastest average monthly job creation since 1999, manufacturing is recovering and the U.S. has returned as an engine for global growth. The recovery, which stands in contrast to weak growth in Europe and Asia, has underpinned an almost threefold gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index since March 2009.
Wynn has been part of that recovery. Since Obama first took the oath on Jan. 21, 2009, the shares of his luxury hotel company have surged fivefold while the S&P 500 Index more than doubled. Starwood Property Trust, Sternlicht’s Greenwich, Connecticut-based real estate company, has risen 36 percent since its August 2009 initial public offering, while an index of real estate investment trusts declined.
“The U.S. is leading the way — we’re the only major economy with accelerating growth,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist in West Chester, Pennsylvania, for Moody’s Analytics Inc. and a registered Democrat who has advised both the Obama administration and Senator John McCain, a Republican. “Obama deserves some credit for that, but he probably won’t get it.”
Tom Johnson, a spokesman for Sternlicht’s closely held Starwood Capital Group who works for Abernathy MacGregor Group in New York, and Michael Weaver, spokesman for Las Vegas-based Wynn, declined to comment. Wynn gets about 70 percent of its sales outside the U.S.
With Democrats fighting to hold control of the Senate in the November elections, Obama will attempt to focus attention on the economy in a speech today at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Illinois.
SOURCE: Thomas Black and Matt Robinson