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Paul Ackman Urges Trump to 'Shut Down' US for 30 Days

By    |   Wednesday, 18 March 2020 04:03 PM

Pershing Square’s Bill Ackman urged President Donald Trump to shut down the country for 30 days to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus, calling it the only option to rescue the economy.

“The moment you send everyone home for Spring Break and close the borders, the infection rate will plummet, the stock market will soar, and the clouds will lift,” Ackman wrote on Twitter.

The investor warned that further delays to such a shutdown would continue to have disastrous costs to human life and pressed Trump to “please send everyone home now.”

“America will end as we know it. I’m sorry to say so, unless we take this option,” he told CNBC. Ackman added that if Trump saves the country from the coronavirus, he will get re-elected in November.

Ackman also urged U.S. companies to stop their buyback programs because “hell is coming.”

The biggest U.S. banks have already halted repurchasing stocks to put their capital to use helping consumers and businesses.

Ackman predicted that hotel stocks including Hilton (HLT) could “go to zero” soon if no action is taken. He is a major shareholder in Hilton.

“Every hotel is going to be shut down in the country. ... If we allow this to continue the way we have allowed it to continue, every hotel company in the world is done. No business can survive a period of 18 months without revenue,” Ackman said.

Ackman said his suggestion is “the only answer” in the U.S.’s fight against coronavirus.

"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 wrote in a tweet.

“No one defaults, no one forecloses. A 30-day rent, interest and tax holiday for all,” he added. “The shutdown is inevitable as it is already happening, but not in a controlled fashion which is extending the economic pain and amplifying the spread of the virus.”

However, Ackman is optimistic that world leaders including Trump will move immediately to save the global economy.

“I’ve been aggressively buying stocks including Hilton today. And I’ve been buying all the way down — Hilton, Restaurant Brands and Starbucks,” Ackman said.

For his part, Trump moved on Wednesday to accelerate production of desperately needed medical equipment to battle the coronavirus pandemic and said an estimate that U.S. unemployment could conceivably reach 20 percent was a worst case scenario.

Scrambling to address the virus after initially playing it down, Trump said he is invoking the Defense Production Act, putting in place a law that will allow the U.S. government to speed production of masks, respirators, ventilators and other needed equipment.

"We're going to defeat the invisible enemy," said Trump, who said the unfolding crisis had basically made him a "war-time president."

Trump said he would invoke another law that would allow U.S. authorities to turn back migrants seeking to cross the southern border of the United States illegally. The border will not be closed, he said.

"No, we're not going to close it, but we are invoking a certain provision that will allow us great latitude as to what we do," he said.

(This report uses material from the AP, Bloomberg and Reuters.)

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Pershing Square’s Bill Ackman urged President Donald Trump to shut down the country for 30 days to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus, calling it the only option to rescue the economy.
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Wednesday, 18 March 2020 04:03 PM
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