As John Hopkins University reported the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. had surpassed 1.3 million on Monday, billionaire investor Paul Tudor Jones (Trades, Portfolio) told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that the economy will be in a “Second Depression” if the pandemic is not contained within a year. The Great Depression, which stretched over a decade from 1929 to 1939, was the worst economic downturn in U.S. history.
“If a year from now, we are still in the same situation, we will be in what would be called a Second Depression,” he said. “Just depends on whether unfortunately this goes to a year with this kind of a lockdown.”
Since America as a whole embraces individual freedom, the founder and CEO of Stamford, Connecticut-based hedge fund Tudor Investment Corp. said he believes the country may have trouble implementing methods like contact tracing used by other nations, including China and South Korea, to quickly contain the coronavirus.
“Americans are too different. I don’t think we would be able to come together and do that,” Jones said. “I think America’s biggest strength is individualism, its love of freedom. In the case of the pandemic, it’s also our biggest weakness. If you look at the Asian countries that are succeeding and beating this, they are doing it because they place a much greater emphasis on society values than they do on individual rights.”
As New York state is the epicenter of the virus in the U.S., reporting more than 330,000 cases and over 20,000 deaths as of May 11, and unemployment numbers continue to climb higher, Jones will be hosting a virtual charity event with The Robin Hood Relief Fund on Monday evening to support nonprofit organizations on the frontlines of combating Covid-19.
“This is my chance to serve them; this is my chance to be of service to them,” he said. “I am going to try to equalize the ledger, and I want to be able to say in 20 years to my grandchildren that, when they ask me what I did in the Second Depression, I want to look them in the eye and I want to tell them I did more than I ever thought I could do.”
After reaching an all-time high on Feb. 19, markets tumbled into the fastest bear market on record in March. Since then, markets seem to have bounced back quickly as investors have been optimistic about the eventual reopening of the economy. The S&P 500 has recovered more than 30% from its virus-led low and is 13.6% away from its record high.
Watch a clip from the full interview below.
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