(Bloomberg) -- Blackstone Group LP saw "remarkable money gathering" in the first quarter, said Chief Executive Officer Stephen Schwarzman.

Blackstone raised $43 billion in the first three months of the year and has gathered $126 billion in the past 12 months, "which is like an out-of-body experience," comparing it to fundraising when he started the firm, Schwarzman said in a Bloomberg Television interview Thursday.

His behemoth investment firm reported earlier in the day that assets under management crossed half a trillion, with $512 billion, for the first time.

Schwarzman also said in the interview that he remains confident that the U.S. isn’t headed for a recession.

“I don’t know why there was this huge drumbeat” in the fourth quarter, he said. Blackstone wasn’t seeing any signs of a downturn at companies it owns.

Blackstone has been at the forefront of the fundraising boom in private capital. Its current flagship buyout fund will be the largest in the firm’s history. It’s already raised more than $22 billion and is expected to eclipse the industry’s biggest -- Apollo Global Management LLC’s $24.7 billion pool -- when it wraps up fundraising later this year, Bloomberg has reported.

Since Schwarzman, 72, established Blackstone in 1985, it has grown to become the world’s largest alternative asset manager, expanding from private equity into businesses including real estate, credit and insurance.

--With assistance from Vincent Bielski, Melissa Karsh and Jason Kelly.

To contact the reporter on this story: Heather Perlberg in Washington at hperlberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Margaret Collins at mcollins45@bloomberg.net, Peter Eichenbaum

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