Economy

Leftist Billionaire Rakes in Billions After Stoking Pandemic Fears

Hedge-fund manager Bill Ackman turns a massive profit after imploring Trump to shut country down.

Thomas Gallatin · Mar. 31, 2020

“Everyone feels, you know, 99% I’ll be okay! But it’s not you; it’s the person you give it to,” declared billionaire hedge-fund manager Bill Ackman in a CNBC interview on March 17, as he called for President Donald Trump to shut the country down for 30 days in light of the China Virus pandemic. Ackman, a longtime Democrat donor who endorsed Michael Bloomberg for president, then got emotional, adding, “I am not going to kill my father, okay!” He further claimed that he had personally locked down in late February after learning how deadly the pandemic was.

Ackman’s emotional plea evoked a critical response, as many noted his statements would only further damage an already hurting market. Former hedge-fund manager Michael Novogratz quipped, “Please Ackman get off CNBC before people start jumping off bridges.”

However, it has now come to light that Ackman’s melodramatic interview may have been more Hollywood than genuine. Days before his CNBC interview, Ackman set up a $27 million hedge that subsequently scored big as the market tumbled on spreading pandemic fear.

And just how big was Ackman’s score? Well, in a letter sent to investors in his Pershing Square Capital Management fund last Wednesday, Ackman noted that he had cashed out a credit hedge to the tune of $2.6 billion in profit. That profit margin prompted one trader to observe, “It looks like a hell of a trade. I guess Bill was crying on TV for a lot of reasons. Tears of joy.”

Ackman sought to downplay criticism of his having profited off of stoking pandemic fears. He told investors that “substantially all of the proceeds” would be used to “purchase more stocks in current investments.” Ah, so stoking fears that led to massive profits on market panic is okay since those profits will be used for buying stocks in hurting industries, like hotels and restaurants? It is profiteers like Ackman who give capitalism a bad name.

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