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‘I look at Bernie Sanders as a bigger threat than the coronavirus.’
That’s Leon Cooperman, billionaire chairman and CEO of Omega Advisors, explaining his view that the Vermont Senator may be a bigger threat than the viral outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China and has claimed more than 1,800 lives since the start of the 2020.
Speaking on CNBC on Tuesday, the outspoken billionaire Cooperman said that he viewed the infectious disease, known as COVID-19, as a short-lived problem that he speculated would die out by June, but maintained that a progressive candidate taking control of the White House would pose a bigger threat to the market and the health of the economy.
“…I just hope the country isn’t ready to elect a communist or a socialist,” he said of Sanders. “If we do, I think the market is in store for a big problem.” he said.
“My hope, my expectations [is that] by June this will be less of an issue,” Cooperman said of the coronavirus spread.
Cooperman’s comments are similar to those he has made in the past about Massachusetts Sen Elizabeth Warren.
Back in November, a then-tearful Cooperman said Warren, would be disastrous for the stock market if she were to win the 2020 Democratic nomination because of what he describes as a her vilification of billionaires and the wealthy. He has a similar issue with Sanders but had focused more criticism on Warren who was the front-runner back then.
A recent poll by NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist shows Sanders with a double-digit lead in the Democratic primary contest, at 31% support nationally, compared with Bloomberg at 19%, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. Warren was at 12% and Former Vice President Joe Biden stood at 15%, according to the survey.
Read: Bloomberg makes debate stage, setting up first showdown with rival Democrats
Cooperman, who boasts a net worth of $3.2 billion, according to Forbes, has also been critical of Trump. He has said that Trump should “take a victory lap and not run again.
Cooperman said he believed that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who he has expressed support for, could beat Trump in a head-to-head race. That said, the Omega founder said Trump deserves credit for the gains in the market and the strength of the economy.
Bloomberg, whose net worth is $64 billion, has spent more than $300 million of his own money on ads, according to reports.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.75%, the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.45% and the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -0.21% all are hovering near all-time highs, even as the outbreak of COVID-19 threatens to thwart the stock markets’ bull run in the near term.
Cooperman otherwise assessed the state of the stock market as healthy and suggested that equities were likely to see further gains. “The conditions for a big decline are not present,” though he said that pullbacks and corrections, usually defined as a decline of at least 10% from a recent peak, were likely.
He makes the case that benign inflation and interest rates can support the market in the near term. The investor said, however, that the next crisis won’t likely come from the private sector, “the next crisis will be in the public sector,” referring to what he believed was a rapidly rising U.S. fiscal deficit.