With critics like these, does Elizabeth Warren need friends?
Hedge fund billionaire Leon Cooperman ripped the Massachusetts senator and 2020 Democratic presidential contender — again — after she featured him in an ad launching this morning on CNBC promoting her proposed wealth tax.
Cooperman’s expletive-laced broadside served as more free PR for Warren, who, as we’ve noted here, is relishing the rise she’s getting out of the ultrarich.
“In my opinion she represents the worst in politicians as she’s trying to demonize wealthy people because there are more poor people than wealthy people,” Cooperman told CNBC, going on to call Warren “disgraceful” and noting he “gave away more in the year” than she has in her life.
Warren couldn't have scripted the criticism any better: Cooperman is emerging as her most useful foil as she paints billionaires as out-of-touch plutocrats.
Warren’s ad intercuts footage of her on the stump talking up her wealth tax, which would impose a 6 percent levy on billion-dollar net worths, with clips of billionaires denouncing her. See it here:
The campaign is now selling this mug from its webstore, which notes Cooperman teared up on CNBC discussing his fears of a Warren presidency:
Warren’s Nevada director said Cooperman’s criticisms are helping the campaign recruit volunteers:
Every time Elizabeth Warren pisses off a billionaire, we get a whole new crop of volunteer leaders. It's campaign magic. 🗽✨— Suzy Smith (@suzytweet) November 13, 2019
The spot also calls out former TD Ameritrade CEO Joe Ricketts, former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, and tech investor Peter Thiel.
One detail that caught Cooperman’s attention: The spot notes he was charged with insider trading. Cooperman told CNBC he “won the case.” In fact, he and his firm, Omega Advisers, agreed to settle with the Securities and Exchange Commission, paying nearly $5 million in penalties and forfeited profits, without admitting wrongdoing. The agreement with the SEC, struck in 2017, requires the firm to keep an outside consultant to monitor its trades until 2022.
Cooperman is poised to pour still more gasoline into the conflagration by going back on CNBC this afternoon:
And a number of journalists suggested the billionaire’s attacks are boomeranging. The New York Times's Nick Confessore noted on Twitter that “most billionaires avoid speaking publicly almost all of the time.” Further, he wrote, “Cooperman’s explicit argument — that his charitable giving entitles him to respect and deference to his viewpoint — just makes Warren’s case for her. He’s saying the quiet part loud.” Vox's David Roberts tweeted, “How sure are we that Cooperman isn't on the Warren payroll?”
And Warren’s tax proposals are in fact less aggressive toward the super-rich than those of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who remains competitive with Warren in Iowa, New Hampshire and nationally. Per my colleagues Sean Sullivan and Jeff Stein, Sanders’s own plan for the rich “introduces a new 1 percent wealth tax on those earning over $32 million and then increases that rate in steps until it reaches 8 percent for those with more than $10 billion.” And here’s how their income tax plans compare, according to Deutsche Bank Securities:
It’s not clear why Warren is drawing the overwhelming attention of wealthy critics. Perhaps it’s because she was the first to roll out her wealth tax, in January, placing a specific plan to tax the most rarefied wealth at the center of her campaign. Or perhaps it’s because Sanders has been on the scene longer and his bid has yet to surge this cycle, while Warren’s candidacy has steadily gained steam for months. But with Bain Capital executive Deval Patrick — the former governor of Warren’s home state — set to join the race, she will only get more opportunity to define the contest as pitting her populist vision against the establishment’s bid to defend the status quo.
— Powell dismisses Trump's call for negative interest rates. The Post's Taylor Telford: "Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell told Congress’s Joint Economic Committee on Wednesday that he saw 'no reason' the economic expansion can’t continue and that the central bank has no imminent plans for further interest rate cuts, despite ongoing pressure from President Trump.
"Powell’s comments came 24 hours after Trump bashed the Fed for not slashing interest rates more. Trump suggested the Fed lower interest rates so much that they would effectively be negative, a rare phenomenon that could lead banks to pay people for taking out loans. Asked about this, Powell largely dismissed the idea and said it would 'certainly not be appropriate' in the current economic environment."
- Powell's economic forecast: Mostly clear skies. "In his assessment of the economy, Powell cited historic low unemployment and strong consumer spending as factors that are keeping his outlook upbeat. He did flag some risks, however. Trade uncertainty has eaten into business investment and manufacturing, and sluggish global growth continues to be a head wind. Weak business investment has created a drag on growth this year, but Powell said he doesn’t expect a downturn. He attributed some of the economy’s recent strength to the Fed’s campaign to lower rates this year."
— The happiest place on earth: “The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit an all-time high … as Disney shares popped while investors digested testimony from the top-ranking Federal Reserve official,” CNBC’s Fred Imbert reports.
- Disney made a big splash with its new streaming service: “Disney signed up 10 million customers for its Disney streaming services within the first day of its broad international launch, the company said, CNBC’s Alex Sherman reports. “Disney is offering a seven-day free trial, so likely not all of the sign-ups represent customers who will continue to pay for the service … Even so, 10 million is a lot of people.”
— Germany narrowly skirts recession. Bloomberg's Yuko Takeo: "Germany narrowly dodged what would have been its first recession in six years, putting a damper on speculation that the government will add fiscal stimulus any time soon. The surprise expansion doesn’t change the fact that the economy is going through a torrid period that’s turned it from the euro area’s traditional growth engine into a source of weakness. Expansion was just 0.1% in the third quarter, with the 19-country currency bloc only a little better, at 0.2%."
- China's also looking weak. WSJ's Liyan Qi, Grace Zhu and Bingyan Wang: "China’s economy is showing fresh signs of weakness even as inflation continues to tick higher—a conundrum for policy makers as the trade dispute with the U.S. drags on. Readings of economic growth slowed further in October, government data showed on Thursday, with disappointing numbers in industrial output, household consumption and fixed-asset investment."
— U.S.-China talks hit snag over agriculture: “Trade talks between the U.S. and China have hit a snag over farm purchases, creating another obstacle to locking down the limited trade deal [Trump] outlined last month,” the Wall Street Journal’s Chao Deng, Lingling Wei and William Mauldin report.
“Trump has said that China has agreed to buy up to $50 billion in U.S. soybeans, pork and other agricultural products annually. But China is leery of putting a numerical commitment in the text of an agreement, according to people familiar with the matter. Beijing wants to avoid cutting a deal that looks one-sided in Washington’s favor, some of the people said, and also wants to have a way out should trade tensions escalate again.”
- What else they don’t agree on: “Chinese officials have also resisted U.S. demands for a strong enforcement mechanism for the deal and curbs on the forced transfer of technology for companies seeking to do business in China — all of top importance to the business community — according to a person familiar with the talks.”
— U.S. manufacturing group suspects it was hacked by China: “As trade talks between Washington and Beijing intensified earlier this year, suspected Chinese hackers broke into an industry group for U.S. manufacturers that has helped shape [Trump’s] trade policies, according to two people familiar with the matter,” Reuters’s Christopher Bing reports.
“The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) was hacked over the summer and hired a cybersecurity firm, which concluded the attack came from China, the two sources said. The security firm, which the sources did not name, made the assessment based on the usage of tools and techniques previously associated with known Chinese hacking groups, they said. It is unclear what data was stolen. NAM hired the outside cybersecurity firm to respond to the breach and stop the intrusion.”
IMPEACHMENT MINUTE: A speed read on the latest from the congressional impeachment inquiry.
"New testimony ties Trump more directly to Ukraine pressure campaign." By The Post's Elise Viebeck
"5 takeaways from Bill Taylor’s and George Kent’s impeachment testimony." By The Post's Aaron Blake
"Ambassador’s cellphone call to Trump from Kyiv restaurant was a stunning breach of security, former officials say." By The Post's Ellen Nakashima
— Court hands Trump another defeat in bid to shield his tax records. The Post's Anne Marimow: "Congress can seek eight years of President Trump’s tax records, according to a federal appeals court order Wednesday that moves the separation-of-powers conflict one step closer to the Supreme Court. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit let stand an earlier ruling against the president that affirmed Congress’s investigative authority on a day when the House was holding its first public impeachment inquiry hearing. Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said in response to Wednesday’s decision that the president’s legal team 'will be seeking review at the Supreme Court.'"
— Google plans to get into banking: “Google will soon offer checking accounts to consumers, becoming the latest Silicon Valley heavyweight to push into finance,” the WSJ’s Peter Rudegeair and Liz Hoffman report.
“The project, code-named Cache, is expected to launch next year with accounts run by Citigroup Inc. and a credit union at Stanford University, a tiny lender in Google’s backyard … Their ambitions could challenge incumbent financial-services firms, which fear losing their primacy and customers. They are also likely to stoke a reaction in Washington, where regulators are already investigating whether large technology companies have too much clout.”
- Welcome to the club: “Big tech companies see financial services as a way to get closer to users and glean valuable data. Apple Inc. introduced a credit card this summer. Amazon.com Inc. has talked to banks about offering checking accounts. Facebook Inc. is working on a digital currency it hopes will upend global payments.” (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
— WeWork’s losses doubled as IPO tanked: “WeWork reported a net loss of $1.25 billion in the third quarter, eclipsing its sales and more than doubling its loss from the same period last year. The quarter coincided with a spending spree in anticipation of an initial public offering that veered off the rails, a combination of events that nearly brought the company down,” Bloomberg News’s Ellen Huet and Gillian Tan report.
“Revenue in the quarter was $934 million, up from $482 million a year earlier but failing to keep pace with the steeper losses, according to a financial document that was presented to bondholders Wednesday and reviewed by Bloomberg. A spokeswoman for WeWork parent company We Co. declined to comment on the report.”
— AARP exec tried to respond to the ‘OK boomer’ meme. It did not go well: “A senior vice president at AARP, formerly known as the Association of American Retired Persons, appeared to provide a retort to the ‘OK boomer’ phrase that has taken millennials and Gen Z by storm: ‘Okay, millennials, but we’re the people that actually have the money,’” my colleague Lateshia Beachum reports.
“Myrna Blyth, who also serves as editorial director of AARP media, made her remarks in a recent interview with Axios about her group’s print and digital presence. Blyth’s comment referenced the popular meme young online users post to dismiss the criticisms of older generations. Millennials were not pleased with Blyth’s rejoinder and have tweeted their frustration about her perceived “tone deaf” comments about millennial finances.”
- AARP says Blyth’s comments were taken out of context: “Blyth’s point is that ad and marketing execs routinely pit generations against one another and overlook older people, especially older women,” AARP’s media relations editorial manager, Colby Nelson, said in a statement to our colleague.
MONEY ON THE HILL
— Budget gap hits $1 trillion over the past year: “The U.S. budget gap grew 34% in the first month of the fiscal year as federal spending outpaced revenue growth, pushing the 12-month deficit past $1 trillion for the first time since February 2013,” the WSJ’s Kate Davidson reports.
“The government ran a $134 billion budget deficit in October, the Treasury Department said … Federal outlays totaled $380 billion, an 8% increase from a year earlier and a record for the month, driven by higher spending on the military, health care and Social Security. Receipts last month totaled $246 billion, a 3% decline from last year, which the Treasury attributed in large part to a shift in the timing of certain payments.”
— Calabria: Fannie, Freddie to leave conservatorship by 2024. American Banker's Neil Haggerty: "Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are expected to be out of government conservatorship by the time his term ends in 2024. However, he said the U.S. takeover of the government-sponsored enterprises — which began more than a decade ago — will not end until Fannie and Freddie hold sufficient capital. 'I certainly hope and expect they will leave before I leave,' Calabria told reporters Wednesday. 'If they’re not ready, they’re not ready. And I’m not going to force them out.'"
- Powell continues his testimony on the Hill with an appearance before the House Budget Committee.
- Walmart, Nvidia, Dillard’s, Viacom, Shoe Carnival and Williams-Sonoma are among the notable companies reporting their earnings, per Kiplinger.
- The Cato Institute holds its 37th Annual Monetary Conference entitled “Fed Policy: A shadow review"
- The American Enterprise Institute holds an event focused on the Fed’s ability to manage the next crisis
- The New York Fed releases its latest Empire State Manufacturing Survey
- JCPenney is among the notable companies reporting its earnings, per Kiplinger.
- The Brookings Institute holds an event on taxing capital income