Investor Bill Ackman urged President Donald Trump and corporate America in an impassioned plea on CNBC to shut down the country for 30 days to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus, calling it the only option to rescue the economy.
“What’s scaring the American people and corporate America now is the gradual rollout,” Ackman told Scott Wapner on “Halftime Report” on Wednesday. “We need to shut it down now. … This is the only answer.”
“America will end as we know it. I’m sorry to say so, unless we take this option,” he said. Ackman added that if Trump saves the country from the coronavirus, he will get reelected in November.
Ackman urged U.S. companies to stop their buyback programs because “hell is coming.” The biggest U.S. banks have already halted repurchasing stocks to put their capital to use helping consumers and businesses.
Worldwide coronavirus cases topped 200,000 on Wednesday, while confirmed cases in the U.S. have surged to at least 6,496. The Trump administration is working on a $1 trillion stimulus package to combat the impact of the virus, including sending out checks to the American people and providing financial relief to airlines.
“The hotel industry and the restaurant industry will go bankrupt first, Boeing is on the brink, Boeing will not survive without a government bailout,” Ackman said. “Capitalism does not work in an 18-month shutdown, capitalism can work in a 30-day shutdown.”
‘Tsunami’ is coming
The founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management said he felt a “tsunami” was coming before anyone else raised a red flag about the outbreak.
“Beginning in late January I was getting increasingly bearish and I woke up with a nightmare,” Ackman said. “And my nightmare was you have this virus that replicates and infects incredibly rapidly.” He added his colleagues thought he was a “lunatic” when he took out cash from an ATM.
In the emotional interview, Ackman revealed he went into lockdown almost a month ago to save his father’s life who is immunocompromised.
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SOURCE: CNBC, Yun Li