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David Rubenstein On The Biden Transition, How The Pandemic Will Permanently Alter Behavior

Carlyle Group's David Rubenstein at a 2016 Bisnow event.

David Rubenstein, the billionaire founder and co-executive chairman of private equity firm The Carlyle Group, said this year has been a big change for him. 

In the past, he would spend as many as 240 days per year on business trips, but during the coronavirus pandemic, he has saved a significant amount of time by holding meetings on Zoom.

Rubenstein shared his thoughts on the long-term effects of the pandemic, the incoming Biden administration and several other topics Wednesday on a Bisnow Town Hall webinar, moderated by Walker & Dunlop CEO Willy Walker

"It's amazing I spent almost 30 years of my life running around the world," Rubenstein said. "Now I'm saying to myself, 'Did I waste my life?' Because I saw the world and met people all over the world, and I loved doing it, but I realized now I can do so much more in the Zoom world. And I'm thinking maybe I won't be traveling so much in the future."

He expects that he is not the only person coming to this realization, and he thinks the pandemic will permanently change the way people think about their travel schedules. 

"I do think the world won't come back to what we were before," Rubenstein said. "People won't travel as much. It's just going to be a different world."

Walker & Dunlop CEO Willy Walker and The Carlyle Group founder David Rubenstein on a Bisnow webinar.

Rubenstein compared this year to the changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution, and the advent of the internet and the smartphone, which each took a decade or several decades to fully materialize. 

"In one year, we have done incredible amounts of changing the way we live and work and socialize," Rubenstein said. "It's incredible what's happened in one year, and I don't think we're going back anytime soon."

The pandemic isn't the only event that's created a major change this year; the United States also elected a new president. 

Rubenstein said he has known President-elect Joe Biden for a while, and he thinks he will do a good job in the White House. He hopes Biden will focus his inaugural address next month on the need for bipartisanship. 

"I hope he gives a speech that is inspiring to say, 'We can get more done if both parties worked together,'" Rubenstein said. "When I worked on Capitol Hill in the '70s, there was no such thing as legislation that wasn't bipartisan ... Now we've got a situation where it's either all Republicans or all Democrats. I wish he could find some way to bring the parties together. I hope he can."

Biden has selected several members of his administration's economic leadership team, including Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary, Cecilia Rouse as the chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Brian Deese for the National Economic Council and Neera Tanden for the Office of Management and Budget. He also tapped Rep. Marcia Fudge to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development

Rubenstein praised Biden's selection of Yellen, the former chair of the Federal Reserve, saying he thinks she is "very good." But he said he wants to see more business leaders picked for administration posts. 

"The challenge is right now I'm trying to convince the people that they should have some people that have actually had a payroll or been in business to serve in the administration," Rubenstein said. "I'm not sure they have very many of those yet. I hope they get some, because it'd be good if they had some people that had actually been in business."