Leon Cooperman Says ‘Communist’ Bernie Sanders Is A ‘Bigger Threat’ Than Coronavirus

Topline: Billionaire investor Leon Cooperman said in an interview with CNBC on Tuesday that Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is a “bigger threat” to the stock market than the coronavirus, while also accusing the Vermont senator of “misrepresenting himself” as a socialist rather than a communist.

  • When asked about what he sees as the biggest risks to markets right now, Cooperman said, “I’m not a big long term optimist, I think things out there are very troubling to me. No. 1 is Bernie Sanders.”
  • “I look at Bernie Sanders as a bigger threat than the coronavirus,” Cooperman said, while also adding that Mike Bloomberg is the only candidate he thinks can beat President Trump in the 2020 election.
  • While he views a Sanders presidency as a big headwind to markets in the long-term, Cooperman sees coronavirus getting resolved in the next quarter or so, much like the past SARS and Ebola outbreaks: “Odds are by June, this will become less of an issue.”
  • The billionaire investor and founder of Omega Advisors accused Sanders of “misrepresenting” himself to voters: “He’s not a socialist. He is, rather, a communist.”
  • “The fact that he’s doing so well in the polls is troublesome,” Cooperman said. “I just hope the country is not prepared to elect a communist or socialist—if we do, I think the market is in store for big problems.”
  • This certainly isn’t the first time Cooperman has clashed with a progressive candidate: His very public feud with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) aside, Cooperman has previously said that the market would crash 25% if either she or Sanders won the Democratic nomination.

Tangent: “The market is assuming that President Trump is reelected, and if he’s not reelected, the only guy in my opinion who can beat him is Michael Bloomberg,” Cooperman said on CNBC. “Bloomberg or Trump would be acceptable to the market.” While he’s supporting Bloomberg, Cooperman described that the candidate is facing an interesting problem in that “he’s an anathema to everything the Democratic party stands for now,” and has had to move his policies to the left in order to garner support. “I don’t think the Democratic party wants Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth warren to head their ticket,” Cooperman said, while also predicting a “brokered convention” in which Bloomberg would have a “good shot” of winning the nomination.

Crucial quote: Cooperman also gave his observations on the state of the market, with one of his top concerns being the federal budget: “The deficit’s out of control, not corporate America,” Cooperman told CNBC. “Nobody, whether it’s a Democrat or Republican, is paying attention,” he said. “We’re mortgaging our future.”

Key background: For Cooperman, who Forbes estimates has a net worth of $3.2 billion, this isn’t the first time he’s clashed with a progressive Democratic candidate. In the last few months of 2019, he very publicly feuded with Elizabeth Warren over her 6% wealth tax and criticism of billionaires. He even previously predicted that were Sanders or Warren to win the nomination, stocks could tank by 25%. Other hedge fund billionaires have similarly warned of a Sanders presidency, forecasting between a 20% to 40% if the Vermont Senator wins.

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