Real Estate investor Sam Zell makes bets on California real estate while expressing concerns about a market correction as the billionaire reveals isn’t a big fan of raising the minimum wage.
Sam Zell: Robots to take over entry-level jobs
Raising the minimum wage could lead to robots taking over entry level jobs, which could stunt the employment cycle, Zell told CNBC in a wide ranging interview. “The tinkering with the minimum wage is a very dangerous game. You start talking about a $13 or a $15 minimum wage, and you’re going to have robots that are operating McDonald’s.”
Based on Zell’s logic, if minimum wage increases double the cost of doing business “there’s no question that everybody will figure out ways to use less people,” he said.
The billionaire real estate investor and Chairman of Equity Group Investments, while bullish on California real estate, isn’t much a fan of the U.S. stock market. “The stock market is at an all-time, but economic activity is not at an all-time,” he said. “People have no place else to put their money, and the stock market is getting more than its share. It’s very likely that something has to give here.”
Sam Zell on earnings quality
Zell started to take apart the market dynamics by considering the quality of recent earnings misses by various corporations. “It’s almost every company that’s missed has missed on the revenue side, which is a reflection that there’s a demand issue,” he said. “When you got a demand issue it’s hard to imagine the stock market at an all-time high.”
Citing international concerns that investors apparently are ignoring judging by the continued climb higher in stocks, Zell said the Ukraine-Russia standoff and Islamic radicals starting to take hold of many parts of the Middle East are concerns.
“I don’t remember any time in my career where there have been as many wildcards floating out there that have the potential to be very significant and alter people’s thinking,” he said. “If there’s a change in confidence or some international event that changes the dynamics, people could in effect take a different position with reference to the market.”
With so many potential dangerous situations in the world and facing the economy, how do you play a stock market that seemingly rises without much concern? “You got to tiptoe …and find the right balance,” he said. “This is the first time I ever remember where having cash isn’t such a terrible thing, despite the fact that interest rates are as low as they are,” making Zell one of the cash “hoarders” a recent St. Louis Federal Reserve paper bemoaned.