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- Hedge fund founder Bill Ackman is “beginning to get optimistic” toward the coronavirus, he wrote in a Sunday tweet.
- The message comes just weeks after the Pershing Square Capital Management CEO warned on CNBC that “hell is coming” and the US risks entering “a Depression-era period.”
- Ackman cited the first one-day drop in New York-based virus deaths that took place Saturday and the lockdowns taking place throughout the country for his positive outlook.
- Antibody tests nearing distribution will offer new insight into how close the US is to reaching valuable herd immunity, the billionaire added.
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After making billions on bets against the coronavirus-hammered stock market, Bill Ackman is hopeful the pandemic will end sooner than expected.
The Pershing Square Capital Management CEO took to Twitter Sunday afternoon with new confidence in the virus’s effective containment. He cited the first one-day drop in New York-based virus deaths that took place Saturday, as well as the shutdowns taking place around the country.
The number of asymptomatic cases could also be far higher than estimated, the billionaire investor said, bringing the population closer to valuable herd immunity. The rate of less-dangerous cases could be “50x higher than expected,” Ackman tweeted, and antibody tests nearing distribution “will definitively answer this question hopefully soon.”
“I am beginning to get optimistic,” Ackman said Sunday. “One could imagine a world in the next few months where everyone is tested and all but the immune compromised go back to a socially distanced but more normal life.”
A sooner-than-expected conclusion to the global health crisis won’t be without its challenges, Ackman noted. The government already enacted trillions of dollars in stimulus to “backfill the economy and bridge us through the crisis,” but small businesses need more aid if they’re to continue regular operations by the time the economy reopens, Ackman said. The government’s $2 trillion relief package set billions of dollars aside for small business loans, but the hedge fund founder believes additional easing is needed to curtail “one of the biggest economic risks.”
While uncertainty looms over all coronavirus projections, Ackman’s track record has already minted him billions in profit. The billionaire’s fund used a $27 million position in credit protection on investment-grade and high-yield bond indexes to protect against heightened risk of default amid the escalating pandemic. When credit markets flashed warning signals, the investments netted Ackman $2.6 billion.
The CEO’s newly positive outlook marks a significant pivot from comments he made just weeks ago. In an emotional half-hour CNBC interview on March 18, Ackman warned CEOs of his portfolio companies that “hell is coming” and the US will endure “a Depression-era period.” He later clarified that Pershing Square’s hedge bets had already been closed by the time of his interview and that he didn’t aim to use his time on-air to profit further.
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