Hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones said the growing gap between the rich and the rest could be “disastrous,” and that the drive for corporate profits has “ripped the humanity” from American companies.
Speaking at a sold-out TED Talk in Canada this week, the co-chairman of Tudor Investment and a man Forbes says is worth $4.6 billion, said current levels of inequality may be unsustainable.
“The gap between the 1 percent and the rest of America, and between the U.S. and the rest of the world, cannot and will not persist,” he said. “Now here’s a macro forecast that’s easy to make, and that’s that the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest, it will get closed. History always does it. It typically happens in one of three ways—either through revolution, higher taxes or wars. None of those are on my bucket list.”
Jones said that he is a proud capitalist “because of the successes and opportunities it has afforded me and millions of others.”
“Capitalism has driven just about every great innovation that has made our world a more prosperous, comfortable and inspiring place to live,” he said.
But he said capitalism has shifted in recent years to become too hyper-focused on short-term quarterly earnings, profits and stock prices.
“I’ve seen a lot of crazy things in markets… And unfortunately, I’m sad to report that right now we might be on the grips of certainly one of the most disastrous, certainly in my career.”
“It’s like we’ve ripped the humanity out of our companies and reduced them to a set of numbers,” he said.
Since 10 percent of American families own 90 percent of the stocks, higher profits and stock prices have only helped those at the very top, he said.
“Higher profit margins do not increase societal wealth. What they actually do is exacerbate income inequality, and that’s not a good thing.”
To address the problem, Jones has formed Just Capital, a not-for-profit that aims to increase justness in companies. To define “justness”—which could include everything from job creation to wages to the environment—he is seeking public input through national surveys and polls.
Jones’ talk comes just a week after protesters gathered outside Jones’ mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut, calling him a “right-wing extremist” who they said was “destroying jobs, dodging taxes, privatizing schools and bankrolling efforts to block a minimum wage hike.”
The protesting group calls itself the “Hedge Clippers,” a reference to hedge funders, and they wielded fake hedge clippers as “the new pitchforks” in the class wars.
Jones has become one of the biggest philanthropists in the hedge fund world and is the founder of the Robin Hood Foundation, which has raised and granted more than $1.45 billion to help the New York poor.