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Michael Bloomberg could 'absolutely' defeat Trump, says major Democratic donor Steven Rattner

·4 min read

This story was originally published February 7, 2019.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg can “absolutely” defeat President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, says major Democratic donor and Bloomberg confidante Steven Rattner.

Rattner says a presidential bid from Bloomberg, who ran New York City from 2002 to 2013, would not seek to mimic the leftward shift among some in the party.

“What Mike [Bloomberg] is not going to do is quote ‘apologize’ in the sense of going back over his positions and the things he did as mayor and say, ‘OK, well, the democratic dogma now is against this, so I'm going to say I wish I hadn't done that,’” Rattner says.

Rattner made the comments to Editor-in-chief Andy Serwer in a conversation that aired on Yahoo Finance in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment. The remark about the likelihood that Bloomberg could defeat Trump came in a conversation with Serwer after the taping.

Also in the episode, Rattner evaluated Trump’s record on the economy, gave a sunny outlook for the stock market, and criticized the tax hike proposed by New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Influencers With Andy Serwer
Influencers With Andy Serwer

Rattner began his career as a New York Times reporter covering Wall Street. Eventually he jumped into the fray himself, becoming an investment banker and a private equity player. When the Great Recession hit, he joined the Obama administration to lead the auto bailout. Now, he manages Michael Bloomberg’s wealth and gives economic analysis in the New York Times and on MSNBC.

Rattner’s favorite 2020 hopefuls: Bloomberg, Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar

Rattner says his preferred potential Democratic presidential candidate is Bloomberg. Others on his list include former Vice President Joe Biden, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, and Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, he says.

Rattner—whose net worth in 2009 was between $188 million and $608 million, according to a disclosure filing—questioned the electability of progressive candidates like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, saying they “would be problematic for a lot of swing voters, at least certainly the ones that I know.”

A self-described centrist, Rattner took aim at progressive Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has called for a marginal tax rate of 70% for income above $10 million.

“If you want to raise my taxes to 50%, I can probably still go to the office every day happily. But she wants 70%...at some point people say, I'm just not going to work,” Rattner says.

‘Tell me what’s going to happen with interest rates, I’ll tell you what’s going to happen with the stock market’

Meanwhile, Rattner had a sunny outlook for the stock market, thanks to comments made by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in January that suggest the Fed will slow or stop its interest rate hikes.

“I've always believed that if you tell me what's going to happen in interest rates, I'll tell you what's going to happen to the stock market,” Rattner says. “If you look at Fed futures at the moment, they show no rate increases and actually about two years from now, a rate decrease.”

“All of that is good for the stock market,” he says.

Rattner was similarly optimistic about the health of major U.S. auto makers, though he acknowledged “ridesharing is the biggest question mark” facing the industry, an industry he helped rescue in 2009 as the head of the Obama Administration’s auto bailout.

Ridesharing “raises the question of how many cars people are going to own,” Rattner says. “A car is most family's second biggest capital asset after their house. It's only used 4% of the time on average. So obviously ridesharing makes a lot of sense, and that could lead to a very different level of auto sales going forward.”

Rattner noted how much the auto industry has changed since the bailout, saying the word “rideshare” was not mentioned a single time during the restructuring.

Andy Serwer is editor-in-chief of Yahoo Finance.

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