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Opinion

Macaskill on markets: Wall Street and the Warren fear factor

Elizabeth Warren is showing a unique ability to get under the skin of Wall Street leaders as the US presidential election season heats up.

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It took a heart of stone not to laugh at the sight of grizzled Wall Street veteran Leon Cooperman choking up on cable TV recently as he condemned Warren’s proposal to introduce a wealth tax in the US.

When asked why he was becoming so emotional, the fund manager and former Goldman Sachs partner replied: “I care, that’s it.” 

He then repeated his prediction that the election of Warren as the next president would lead to a 25% drop in equity prices, in a reminder that anyone who has worked as a Wall Street analyst – which is where Cooperman got his start at Goldman – will find it tough to shake a habit of making bizarrely specific forecasts about the impact of future events.

Lloyd Blankfein, who retired as chief executive of Goldman last year, did not want to seem as shaken up as his former colleague Cooperman, after they both featured in a Warren campaign ad in leading roles as villainous billionaires.

“I was surprised and flattered that I could play such a role in the presidential campaign,” Blankfein joked, adding that he has a thicker skin than Cooperman. 

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