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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Larry Fink has faith in America’s comeback

Investors have a way of sniffing out the truth, and what they’re sniffing now in terms of COVID-19 is far from the doom-and-gloom, long-dark-winter scenario we keep hearing from many politicians, most notably those in New York.

Instead, there’s a fair amount of sunshine on Wall Street these days about the country’s future and the likely end of the pandemic in a few months.

How do I know this? Money managers are telling me their biggest clients have been increasing their exposure to stocks since ­October.

Yes, COVID caseloads are mounting, schools are going totally remote and some state governments are now instituting new lockdowns on businesses, whose closures have wobbled the markets.

But some of the smart money also believes hope is on the horizon. Outside of New York, Michigan and California, there’s also broader governmental resistance to full lockdowns because of the public backlash.

Meanwhile, our hospitals aren’t being overrun as they were at the beginning of the pandemic, and people are surviving COVID. Powered by low interest rates and trillions of dollars in stimulus, the economy and the markets can bob and weave their way through a winter that won’t be so dark.

“I just put another couple million to work,” a money manager who runs a multibillion-dollar fund told me. “Clients are buying the dip.”

Or maybe people who make money looking at the world without political blinders know something the hyperventilating pols don’t want to admit: That the end of the pandemic is coming spurred by a highly effective vaccine.

Pfizer has applied for emergency FDA approval of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Pfizer has applied for emergency FDA approval of a COVID-19 vaccine.Simon Shin/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

Don’t take my word for it. Larry Fink of BlackRock recently told employees in a post-election town hall on Nov. 4 that markets are upbeat on the prospect of a Biden presidency, a GOP Senate and a slimmer Democratic majority in the House. Divided government means pols can’t do anything stupid like raise taxes during the ­pandemic recession.

He added that a vaccine would likely be widely distributed by the second quarter of next year, a boost to the economy and the markets:

“We are going to have antivirals and we are going to have therapies that work. I am confident that we will have a medical solution.”

Fink, of course, isn’t an epidemiologist. But he runs the largest money manager in the world, with $7.4 trillion that flows into vaccine producers like Pfizer and Moderna.

Days after his remarks, BlackRock disclosed that it had increased its position in Moderna stock by 2 percent, bringing its ­total holdings to $1.4 billion.

Of course, Fink could be just “talking his book,” Wall Street jargon for promoting a position. A more realistic view is that he has “skin in the game” and has a lot to lose if he’s wrong.

Fink, of course, is one of Wall Street’s top Democrats, so you won’t see him on TV saying that things are more likely to get better than worse for the pandemic, the economy and the markets. That would mean he would have to give some credit to President Trump for the stimulus that has kept the economy from falling into a COVID depression and for making a vaccine a realistic possibility sometime soon.

But people like Fink have a way of seeing through the daily hysteria of headlines and politicians. Markets, as I’ve pointed out in this space, were much more skeptical of the Blue Wave theory in the polls that predicted a massive Dem sweep. They accurately sniffed out that Trump would make the election close and the GOP could do well down the ballot.

They were right about the election. Let’s hope they’re right about the pandemic.

Left warned Biden: Jamie’s a NO!

Progressives must really hate Jamie Dimon.

Following last week’s column that promoted the idea that the JPMorgan Chase chief would be a great choice as Treasury secretary in the Biden administration, progressive groups were outraged. They flooded the Biden transition team with warnings to steer clear of Dimon or face blowback, JPM people tell me.

Dimon, as I pointed out, is a moderate Democrat and the country’s best banker, having run JPMorgan for 15 years without major scandal and avoiding the pitfalls of other banks that led to the 2008 financial crisis.

He also would probably take the job if asked by the president-elect, I am told. So what’s not to like?

For starters, he’s not a leftist and he speaks his mind. Unlike the AOC-types, he won’t endorse Green New Deal spending sprees, and would oppose massive tax increases on the rich while we’re in a pandemic.

So he’s a non-starter, as last week’s column predicted.

Dimon was asked about his chances of becoming treasury secretary at an investment conference last week, and confirmed my reporting about its low odds.

Asked whether he would take the post if asked, he gave a non-denial denial.

“I love what I do, and I have never coveted the job, ever. I love my country so I will help anyone who has that job,” he said.

Read More at NYPost

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