Billionaire investor Bill Ackman appeared on CNBC yesterday and had an impassioned plea for President Trump as well as corporate America.
To stop the spread of the coronavirus that is wreaking havoc on the economy, Ackman says there is only solution:
“Shut it down.”
Ackman told the host of Halftime Report that ‘What’s scaring the American people and corporate America now is the gradual rollout. We need to shut it down now. This is the only answer.”
He believes that shutting down the country for 30 days, is the only way to save the economy.
If we don’t, he warns the outcome will be even more dire:
“America will end as we know it. I’m sorry to say so, unless we take this option.”
He also tweeted “With exponential compounding, every day we postpone the shutdown costs thousands, and soon hundreds of thousands, and then millions of lives, and destroys the economy.”
In the same string of tweets, he also calls for a “30-day rent, interest and tax holiday for all.”
Ackman also says companies should stop their stock buyback programs because “hell is coming”, implying that they should be doing everything they can right now to hoard cash.
He also says that without efforts like a 30-day shutdown to slow the advance of the virus, many industries will be forced into bankruptcy.
“The hotel industry and the restaurant industry will go bankrupt first, Boeing is on the brink, Boeing will not survive without a government bailout. Capitalism does not work in an 18-month shutdown, capitalism can work in a 30-day shutdown.”
Ackman says hotel stocks like HIlton “could go to zero” without the government taking action to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“Every hotel is going to be shut down in the country. … If we allow this to continue the way we have allowed it to continue, every hotel company in the world is done. No business can survive a period of 18 months without revenue,” he added.
The comments could be viewed as Ackman talking his book, as he is a major shareholder in Hilton Brands (NYSE: HLT). Any government relief would help his position in Hilton.
Ackman said he was “aggressively buying stocks including Hilton today. And I’ve been buying all the way down — Hilton, Restaurant Brands and Starbucks.”
He says his worries today started back in January when he had a premonition that a “tsunami” was coming.
“Beginning in late January I was getting increasingly bearish and I woke up with a nightmare. And my nightmare was you have this virus that replicates and infects incredibly rapidly.”
Ackman added that his colleagues thought he was a “lunatic” when he withdrew cash from an ATM.
To cap off what was an interesting day of tweets and television appearances, Ackman also believes that if President Trump does shut down the country for 30 days and the virus is under control, then Trump can win re-election.