Investment expert Jim Chanos, who was the first investor to spot the massive fraud that would become the Enron scandal, called President Trump’s infrastructure plan “fake fiscal news” in an interview published by CNBC Friday.
Chanos the founder and managing partner at Kynikos Associates, one of the largest short-selling investment firms in the world, dismissed the idea that Trump’s much-touted infrastructure plan would create economic growth.
“That’s just another sort of fake fiscal news if you will. It’s going to be public-private partnerships,” Chanos told Lynn Parramore of the Institute for New Economic Thinking in an interview.
CNBC highlighted the investor’s comments:
“Because private investors need high rates of return, these deals generally haven’t been good deals for anybody,” Chanos said. “We’re told that the private sector will be able to do this better. Well, they might be able to do it better and faster, but only for a small number of projects.”
The White House website said Trump’s infrastructure plan will rebuild US cities and states by “unleashing private sector capital.” The proposal will leverage $200 billion of government funds into $1 trillion, according to the government page.
Chanos said private investors would likely not agree to take on the “real” tougher projects like repairing and refurbishing “without definable cash flow.”
“It’s something that sounds good but when we actually start looking at projects that make sense for private investors leveraged up with state-backed or federally-backed bonds to do a project, we’re going to find that it winnows down the list dramatically,” he told Parramore.
Chanos echoed other critics of relying on private sector investment for the infrastructure plan, saying Trump’s proposed projects “are not what core supporters thought they were getting with Trump,” Chanos said.
“It’s going to be great for Wall Street investment banks, but I’m skeptical that a lot of people are going to be able to get excited about the economic growth coming from them. Rural people won’t benefit from them. They won’t be happening in the Deep South, where you might need new levels. This is for parking garages at JFK,” he continued.
The White House declined CNBC’s request to offer comment on Chanos assessment.