Bill Ackman doubts the Fed can tame inflation, says higher prices ahead
Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman is skeptical of the Federal Reserve’s ability to bring down inflation, seeing structurally higher prices lingering. “Long-term interest rates are meaningfully below where they’re going to go and we think that is, of course, a risk for equities,” Ackman said on a quarterly investor call for Pershing Square Holdings Thursday. “A part of our thesis here is that we think inflation is going to be structurally higher going forward than it has been historically.” To tame surging prices, the central bank has approved its fourth consecutive 0.75 percentage point increase , taking its benchmark rate to a range of 3.75%-4%, the highest level in 14 years. The consumer price index has shown some signs of easing , with the gauge rising less than expected in October. CPI increased 0.4% for the month of October and was up 7.7% from a year ago. Even with the slowdown, inflation remains well above the Fed’s 2% target, and several areas of the report show that the cost of living remains high. “We do not believe that it is likely the Federal Reserve is going to be able to get inflation back to a kind of consistent 2% level,” Ackman said. “We’ll have to ultimately accept a higher level of inflation.” The investor said he believes that a wave of factors from geopolitical risks, rising wages to supply chain disruptions have made executives across the board rethink outsourcing of production. “We’re a big believer in the thesis that a lot more of that business is going to come closer to home. And it is more expensive to do business here,” Ackman said. “We think there are a number of structural reasons why inflation is going to be more persistent than expected.” Ackman revealed that his portfolio is still hedged against interest-rate and currency risks. The Pershing Square hedge fund manager previously urged the Fed to put a line in the sand on soaring price by aggressively raising rates. In March 2020 during the depths of the Covid pandemic, Ackman issued a dire warning on CNBC about the health crisis, saying “hell is coming” and imploring the White House to shut down the country for a month. He made $2 billion betting against the market then. At the end of the third quarter, Pershing Square hedge fund’s top holdings included Lowe’s , Chipotle , Restaurant Brands , Hilton and Canadian Pacific Railway .