Paul Tudor Jones speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 21, 2020.
Adam Galica | CNBC
Billionaire hedge fund investor Paul Tudor Jones said Monday the economy would be in a “Second Depression” if the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t get contained for another year.
“If a year from now, we are still in the same situation, we would be called a Second Depression,” Jones said on CNBC’s Squawk Box on Monday. “Just depends on whether unfortunately this goes to a year with this kind of a lockdown.”
With tears in his eyes, Jones said he wants to be able to tell his grandchildren, “when they ask me what did I do during the second depression, I would look them in the eye and I want to tell them I did more than I thought I could do.”
The coronavirus has infected more than 1.3 million people in the U.S. as of Monday, with at least 79,528 deaths in the country, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Jones, the founder and chief executive officer at Tudor Investment Corp, said because of how America feels about individual freedoms, the country may have trouble following contact tracing and other methods used by other countries to contain the virus quickly, such as China and South Korea.
“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.”
After tumbling into the fastest bear market on record in March, stocks have bounced back swiftly from its low. The S&P 500 has come back more than 30% from its virus low and is just 13.6% away from its record high as investors bet on an eventual reopening of the economy.
“I think this part of the bounce was easy to forecast, I think what happens from here again depends a lot on Covid stuff. There’ll be a shift in focus from liquidity issues somewhere down the line to solvency issues.If we don’t find a vaccine or a cure, if we don’t find a much better way of testing at scale … then I think the market’s going to have a much more difficult time,” Jones said.
This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.
Subscribe to CNBC PRO for exclusive insights and analysis, and live business day programming from around the world.