Billionaire investor Bill Ackman said Monday that the spread of the delta variant doesn’t pose a significant threat to the economic reopening, and he sees interest rates rising on the back of the big comeback.
“I hope what it does is that it motivates anyone who doesn’t get the vaccine to get the vaccine. I don’t think it’s going to change behavior to a great extent,” Ackman said in a interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “You are going to see a massive, my view, economic boom. … We are going to have an extremely strong economy coming in the fall.”
The delta variant is causing flare-ups across unvaccinated pockets of the country and leading to an increase in hospitalizations as cases climb. Ackman, the founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, said the variant is less deadly than other strains, and the U.S. could achieve herd immunity faster as more people recover from the infections.
The hedge fund manager believes bond yields will trend much higher in the second half of 2021 as the economy continues to recover from the pandemic-induced recession.
“I think rates are going up. Short rates I think are going to go up a lot faster than people think,” Ackman said. “Coming to the turn of the year … I think we are going to have meaningfully higher yields as people realize the economy is going to make a big recovery.”
Ackman said the slide in Treasury yields Monday provided investors with a buying opportunity. The 10-year benchmark rate fell 7 basis points to 1.22%, a five-month low.
“Today’s move … I would borrow as much as you can in the long term fixed rate on the basis of today’s rates,” Ackman said.
The hedge fund manager has been betting big on the rebound in the restaurant, retail and hotel industries. His top holdings at the end of the first quarter included Lowe’s, Hilton, Restaurant Brands and Chipotle. He recently picked up Domino’s Pizza shares following a pullback.
At the height of the Covid-19 crisis in March 2020, Ackman came on CNBC to warn investors that “hell is coming” and urge the White House to shut down the country for a month.
Days after the interview, Ackman revealed his firm exited the short positions on March 23, 2020, just as the S&P 500 bottomed, pocketing more than $2 billion in bets against markets that month.
Ackman also spoke on Monday about his blank-check company’s decision to drop a deal to buy 10% of Universal Music Group after pushback from regulators regarding the deal structure. Now his Pershing Square Holdings hedge fund will take the stake instead of the SPAC.
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