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Billionaire activist investor Bill Ackman calls on Trump to 'shut down' the U.S. for the next 30 days

Julia La Roche
·Correspondent
·3 min read

Billionaire activist investor Bill Ackman, the CEO of $11 billion Pershing Square Capital, called on President Trump to shut the U.S. down for the next month to save lives as the coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads.

“Mr. President, the only answer is to shut down the country for the next 30 days and close the borders. Tell All Americans that you are putting us on an extended Spring Break at home with family. Keep only essential services open. The government pays wages until we reopen,” Ackman Tweeted.

In a separate Tweet, he added that such a move would make “the infection rate will plummet, the stock market will soar, and the clouds will lift.”

Bill Ackman, chief executive officer and portfolio manager at Pershing Square Capital Management, speaks during the SALT conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. May 18, 2017.  REUTERS/Richard Brian
Bill Ackman, chief executive officer and portfolio manager at Pershing Square Capital Management, speaks during the SALT conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. May 18, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Brian

Ackman, who joined Twitter in June 2017 and hasn’t Tweeted since the government shutdown in January 2019, implored Trump to “please send everyone home now.”

“With your leadership, we can end this now. The rest of the world will follow your lead. A global Spring Break will save us all.”

Experts have strongly advised that people stay home in an attempt to “flatten the curve” as the number of COVID-19 cases grows and the death toll moves higher.

At the time of this writing, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases moved above 201,000 world-wide. In the U.S., confirmed cases were last reported at 6,496, while the death toll moved above 100, according to data from Johns Hopkins.

“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,” the hedge fund manager Tweeted.

The activist investor added that no one should default or have their home foreclosed. Instead, it should be “a 30-day rent, interest and tax holiday for all.”

“The shutdown is inevitable as it is already happening, but not in a controlled fashion which is extended the economic pain and amplifying the spread of the virus,” he added.

In a Tweet on Tuesday afternoon clarifying his remarks, Ackman said he’s “confident the president will do the right thing in temporarily shutting down the country and closing the borders. If that happens, we can win the war against the virus and the markets and the economy will soar.”

He added that Pershing Square is buying stocks, noting there are “bargains of a lifetime if we manage this crisis correctly.”

In a recent note to shareholders of Pershing Square Holdings, the firm’s publicly-traded vehicle, Ackman wrote “that efforts to contain the coronavirus are likely to have a substantial negative impact on the U.S. and global economies, and on equity and credit markets.” At the time, the hedge fund put on “large notional hedges” with asymmetric payoff characteristics.

Pershing Square Holdings was last up 2.8% year-to-date as of March 9, after being down 7.1% for the year as of February 29. The fund was among the best-performing in 2019, delivering returns of 58.1% for the year.

Julia La Roche is a Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.