Having turned decidedly bullish in the immediate aftermath of the Trump victory, his supporter Carl Icahn said the strong rally in U.S. stocks since last Wednesday’s “shocking” event might be overdone, however he added that investors can expect the president-elect to be a consensus builder who can help fix Washington and improve the economy. “When it runs up like this, I scale off a little bit,” Icahn said on Wednesday at the Reuters Global Investment Outlook Summit, but added “that doesn’t mean that I am that negative or positive.”
Icahn, who has praised Trump’s two potential Treasury picks in either Jamie Dimon or Steven Munichin, aka JPM or Goldman, said on Wednesday he is confident that Trump can help undo the “stagnation” in the United States and its economy, which dominance of the Washington “establishment” has fostered. “We have a perception that the government is at war with business,” Icahn said. “The point I think about Donald is he’s a consensus builder, he’s a very smart guy.”
As reported previously, Icahn confirmed that he left what became Trump’s victory party in the early morning on Nov. 9 to bet about $ 1 billion on U.S. equities. He called the knee-jerk overnight plunge in stocks, as it became clearer to investors that Trump might win, “crazy” and “unique,” and that it created a buying opportunity.
Icahn added that he expects Trump to fulfill his promise to reduce regulatory burdens on business, including Dodd-Frank financial reforms that “went too far.” Hope on Wall Street that Icahn will undo years of reform has sent financial stocks soaring in the past week, leading to the biggest inflow in financial ETFs on record. As Bloomberg reported, in the week following the election, the Financial Select Sector SPDR exchange-traded fund amassed $ 4.9 billion of inflows — a record, and more than it accumulated in the past three years.
However, Icahn cautioned that some financial regulation remained necessary, to stop Wall Street, which was “greatly to blame” for the 2008 global financial crisis, from causing another calamity.
The billionaire raider remained upbeat about some of his own investments, saying the insurer American International Group remained undervalued even after recent asset sales he urged. He also said Herbalife, “whose prospects he has debated for years with William Ackman, a hedge fund manager who calls the nutritional products company a Ponzi scheme”, remained undervalued after it agreed in July to restructure its business and pay $ 200 million to end a Federal Trade Commission probe.
Icahn, who has posted 28% annualized returns as an investor, says he regularly talks with legislators in Washington, who complain that the current system prevents them from getting things done. “It’s just a major problem,” said Icahn, who like Trump is from New York. “I was a poor kid from Queens and I made all this money. I love the country, it’s just a lot of the people I don’t like.”
As Reuters adds, Icahn likened the potential for Trump to succeed to President Lyndon Johnson’s success in getting civil rights laws passed in his early White House years.
“Donald is going to surround himself with some very good people,” Icahn said. “He’ll be a guy to do what you need to build consensus. He’ll do it like Lyndon Johnson did it. Who would have thought Lyndon Johnson could get the Civil Rights Act through?”
Finally Icahn expressed hope that critics of Trump will come around, recognizing the number of voters whose ballots reflected their dissatisfaction with business as usual in Washington.
“There are so many unhappy people around, and the reason they’re unhappy is the stagnation,” he said. “That’s why I think, even those that really don’t like Trump personally, should give him a shot.”