Billionaire Stan Druckenmiller says he'd give Bidenomics an ‘F’ because inflation almost came down before the Fed 'fumbled on the five-yard line’

Bidenomics has another critic. Stanley Druckenmiller, the famed billionaire investor who made his money working alongside George Soros, has been extremely disgruntled with President Joe Biden’s economic policies. 

“Bidenomics, if I was a professor, I’d give him an ‘F,’” Drucknemiller told CNBC on Tuesday. 

Druckenmiller was especially irate over what he considered to be a misreading of the macroeconomic landscape on behalf of both Biden, the Federal Reserve, and the Treasury Department. All three, according to Druckenmiller, overestimated the gravity of the economic crisis the pandemic brought on—and therefore implemented the wrong policies. 

The administration “misdiagnosed COVID and thought we’re going into a depression,” Druckenmiller said. “The Fed did, too. I worried about it, too, in the early days. The Fed eventually pivoted—better late than never. Treasury is still acting like we’re in a depression.”

The country would have been able to pull itself out of the economic slump, which at one point was technically a recession, without the level of fiscal spending of Bidenomics, Druckenmiller said—and now that the recovery is almost complete, some of its policies have caused the deficit to soar. 

Bidenomics was structured to feature massive outlays of government funding across the country in an effort to keep money moving in the economy and spur economic growth. However, critics say it’s led to record-high national debt of $34 trillion, a result of all the government spending. An analysis from University of Pennsylvania researchers estimates the U.S. has about 20 years before its debt levels become unsustainable.

Bidenomics also faces mounting concerns that it could ultimately be inflationary because the extra government spending will drive up prices at a time when the Federal Reserve is trying to curb inflation. The truth is likely somewhere in the middle. It is still too early to know the full extent of Biden’s economic policies, considering the manufacturing and infrastructure subsidies will take years to come to fruition given the long lead times in those industries. 

In the here and now, though, Druckenmiller remains frustrated. He also took issue with the Fed and its chair Jerome Powell for getting the market overexcited late last year when it began telegraphing rate cuts on the horizon when inflation had come down markedly from the 9% levels of June 2022. But there was still the possibility inflation might either spike back up or remain extremely stubborn in the last mile. It certainly wasn’t down to the Fed’s 2% target. In fact, Powell himself would later say he needed more data to indicate it was heading to those levels. Instead, Powell jumped the gun and forecasted as many as three rate cuts at the time. 

“To some extent, I feel like they fumbled on the five-yard line with the game on the line,” Druckenmiller said. 

The market rejoiced after Powell’s prediction, anticipating the current cycle of monetary tightening was over. Overjoyed economists began prognosticating as many as six rate cuts in 2024, which resulted in the Dow Jones shooting up to record levels and the bulls claiming a recession had been definitively avoided. 

“They set financial conditions on fire again,” Druckenmiller said. 

Throughout his interview, Druckenmiller was especially irate with Powell, who he continued to chastise for speaking too much in public. Parsing the carefully measured words of the Federal Reserve chair—known as Fed speak—has become an art unto itself. For Druckenheimer, though, it was just a bad decision. 

“Don’t go on 60 Minutes,” Druckenmiller said, referencing Powell’s February interview with the program. “You’re not a rock star—okay. You’re the Fed chairman. You’re supposed to be running monetary policy for the good of the country.”

Druckenmiller’s words come at a time when the merits of having an independent Fed are under intense scrutiny. A Wall Street Journal report in April detailed how former president Donald Trump’s campaign was working on plans to try and limit the central bank’s independence, even floating the idea that the president would set interest rates. While Trump was in office, he regularly jawboned Powell in public for engaging in monetary policy he didn’t approve of. That in and of itself was a virtually unheard of practice. 

Druckenmiller, however, took the opposite view to the former president. According to him, the Fed should be even more independent and not provide forward guidance at all. “What I would do is just say nothing and do what the Fed chair used to do,” he said. “When you need to raise rates, raise them; when you need to cut them, cut them.”

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