Billionaire Paul Tudor Jones made his name as a hedge fund investor when he accurately predicted the 1987 stock market crash.
More than 30 years later, he’s offering up another bold prediction: The economy is on thin ice, and we’re in big trouble – no matter what Donald Trump tells you.
Jones delivered his stark warning during an emotional CNBC interview this week. He warned that the U.S. economy is teetering dangerously close to a “Second Depression” and will plunge over the edge if lockdowns persist much longer.
The reason why? The coronavirus pandemic has turned America’s greatest strength – individual freedom – into its greatest weakness.
Americans are too different. I don’t think we would be able to come together and do that. I think America’s biggest strength is individualism, it’s 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.
And looking at how Americans have responded to coronavirus containment measures, it’s hard to dispute that Jones is right.
Just look at the growing number of protests against state-issued lockdowns. Even President Trump has tacitly encouraged his supporters to oppose local restrictions on economic activity.
In Trump’s America, following – or ignoring – public health advice has become a political statement.
That’s the opposite of what happened in Sweden, whose decision not to enforce shelter-in-place measures has become an anti-lockdown talking point in the U.S.
But there’s a reason that Sweden doesn’t need strict lockdowns— its citizens trust the government and follow its advice.
In the U.S., ongoing arguments over whether the pandemic is even real have made something as simple as wearing a mask a powerful political statement.
Even in countries like Germany and New Zealand, which did issue lockdown orders, the public has been overwhelmingly willing to sacrifice individual freedoms to fight a crisis that plagues the entire society.
When someone tests positive, the government aims to find everyone that came into contact with that individual. Those people are then asked to self-isolate.
But in the U.S., people have already begun protesting contract tracing. Not that the government could hope to achieve public buy-in anyway.
After all, even Vice President Mike Pence – the coronavirus czar himself – refused to self-isolate when members of his staff tested positive for COVID-19.
Absent a coronavirus vaccine, the economy is screwed. The good news is that scientists believe we’ll get one eventually. But absent a miracle, it won’t come until it’s far too late to prevent the Second Great Depression Paul Tudor Jones is warning us about.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.