Wilbur Ross is not happy with the fiscal cliff resolution. He calls the agreement ‘a ticker to another flight.’ Ross says that the positives of the resolution include the fact that taxpayers will now know what their rate is, and will also the increases are not too much. Ross conducted an interview with CNBC earlier today. We embedded the video below, along with a computer generated transcript.
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markets may be buying into the deal out of washington. billionaire investor wilbur ross not so much. yeah. he says the bill passed by congress last night is mainly a ticket to another fight which we’ll talk about, but how does all of this affect his investment decisions for 2013? wilbur joins us now. good to see you. welcome back, sir. good to be back, thank you. are you encouraged or dismayed by the bill passed last night? well, i’m encouraged in one sense in that at least the vast majority of american taxpayers will know what their rates will be, and there’s not that much of an increase. for most people the increase will be basically the two percentage points on social security and a little witt higher limit, so from the average person’s point of view, that’s okay. the disappointing part is thatit didn’t really deal with spending. there’s a ratio of $41 of tax increase to $1 of spending decrease. right. that’s not kind of balance we need to fix the budget. wilbur, though — we have to wait and hope. the fiscal cliff wasn’t about the deficit. it wasn’t about the debt. it was actually about stabilizing gdp. i mean, that’s the cliff, that’s about making sure we wouldn’t be thrown no a recession as these various measures went into effect, so from that point view, it’s a very different kind of deal that we were expecting or looking for than one that dealt directly with taxes and spending. well, we do need to deal with the deficits. we can’t keep running trillion plus dollar a year deficits indefinitely because otherwise you’ll have the federal reserve balance sheet be miles than the whole economy, and obviously that’s not a comprehensible thing, so we really do have to deal with the spending side as well. and most of the measures that would have been dealt with in the spending, like gradually raising the age on social security with have no negative impact on the economyner team in any event. by the way, what do you think of today’s rally, and it comes, you know, after a pretty good month of december anyway. are we fooling ourselves to see stocks go much higher here when we still have the spending part of the equation to be figured out in the next few month, or is this wall street looking past all of that and guessing that the economy will grow from here? well, i think there was so much anxiety built up over the cliff that almost any resolution of it would have brought a sigh of relief. also remember, this is the first part of january. a lot of institutions have an influx of new money that needs to be put to work, so i don’t think this is a determinative thing one way or another, but certainly from the point of view of the economy it’s much better for the market to be acting well than poorly. it does point towards maybe revived growth, prospects that bill was just talking about, but the question remains there’s two more months to which could potentially be a nastier fight over the debt ceiling. how worried are you? well, i’m less worried about the fight over the debt ceiling than the fight over the sequester. remember, all they did is they pushed the sky westering forward two months. right. i’d be very surprised if the congress would vote to default on the u.s. sovereign debt. i’d be a lot less surprised if they let the sequester come in. well, what is this dysfunctional congress of ours capable of when it comes to spending cuts? mean, we had just a couple of congressmen here, pretty moderate on the republican and democratic side, and they couldn’t agree. they couldn’t even come close to an agreement on how the spending cuts were going to play out in the next couple of months here. what are your expectations? they are not going to know anything more about the arithmetic of spending in two months than they do already. it’s just that people don’t like to make painful decisions, but as i say, things like changing the inflation measurement, things like gradually extending the social security capability age, things like means testing, i don’t really see why those should be very controversial on either party’s side, so for the life of me it’s unclear why it’s so hard to come to grips with those. yeah. where are you going to make money this year? god only knows. it’s too early to tell. we’re pretty liquid right now. well, you look for distressed asset. that’s where you’ve made your fortune. where do you see that happening right now? what looks attractive to you? well, seriously, we continue to be big advocates of shale gas, and if we’re talking about the economy, a very easy way for the administration to boost the economy would be to grant the export permits for the 12 or 13 pending lngx-4 terminals, and to make it clear that it’s going to be supportive of shale gas. shale gas could transform the whole economy, get us back into the chemical business, get us back into the plastic business,reduce our balance of payments deficit and all without costing the fact a penny, and meanwhile while reducing the carbon dioxide footprint by substituting natural gas for coal. so i think it’s a win-win, and,