By Reed RichardsonMar 19th, 2020, 12:35 am
MSNBC host and business correspondent Stephanie Ruhle tore into hedge fund titan Bill Ackman for his lengthy and tearful doomsday diagnoses of the US economy on Wednesday, which sent the stock markets spiraling further downward.
Speaking with 11th Hour host Brian Williams, Ruhle lashed out at Ackman’s stunningly ominous assessment of the economy, in which he predicted “hell is coming” during a lunchtime interview with CNBC. Nervous market traders heeded his dour warning, cratering the Dow Jones index nearly 1,000 points before recovering some of those losses to close at almost the same level as the day President Donald Trump took office.
“Stephanie, tell us about Mr. Ackman and what did you make of that very emotional warning for what we all may be in for?” Williams asked.
“I know Bill Ackman pretty well,” Ruhle began, acknowledging that many business leaders are similarly anxious about the long-term impact of a coronavirus-fueled near-shutdown of the global economy. “Many business leaders, whether it be [investment banking CEO] Mr. [Rich] Handler, whether it be Mr. Ackman, have said maybe we need to shut down temporarily and really attack this because the thing is, Brian, businesses cannot survive. Most businesses like individuals who live on credit cards, businesses live on leverage. And across most industries they cannot survive something like this if it’s a slow bleed. So many business leaders are urging the administration to do something more severe.”
“But I have to tell you what Bill Ackman did today on television was so wildly irresponsible,” she argued. “I get it. Bill Ackman wants to go down in the history books that he called this. Bill Ackman has chosen to be in documentaries about some of his best trades and put on this grand extraordinary show. But in putting on that grand show while he was getting choked up talking about his father he caused the markets to puke and he caused the circuit breakers to trigger.”
“So it’s taking advantage of the fact that cable news puts him on television, really hard-working cable news reporters who are trying to get smart business leaders on TV to explain the real picture, maybe to urge the White House to make really good choices, but make no mistake, Bill Ackman could call the White House any day of the week. I assure you. Jared Kushner would love to take his calling. But what has so many people wondering tonight, why Bill Ackman, who maybe has the right idea or very good intentions would put on such a ridiculous show and cause such damage to an already panicked market. That’s what’s puzzling.”
After Ackman’s interview shocked the markets, Forbes discovered that the hedge fund heavy had called one of the private equity firms he signed out as particularly exposed to enormous risk, Blackstone, and said he would be buying that company’s shares.
Watch the video above, via MSNBC.
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