Watch hedge fund billionaire Leon Cooperman count the ways President Trump is like Reagan

  • The Omega Advisors chief says the best way to judge President Trump is to compare him to Ronald Reagan.
  • As president, Reagan cut regulations and taxes and built up the military.
  • Cooperman says, "Ditto for President Trump."

Billionaire investor Leon Cooperman told CNBC on Wednesday that the best way to judge President Donald Trump is to compare him to Ronald Reagan.

"I kind of contrast Donald Trump with Ronald Reagan," Cooperman, chairman and CEO of the Omega Advisors hedge fund, which has about $3.8 billion in assets under management, said on "Fast Money Halftime Report." "When Ronald Reagan ran for president, he said, 'I'm going to get the government off the backs of the people. And I'm going to do that by reducing regulation and reducing taxes.'"

"Ditto for President Trump," Cooperman said.

"[Reagan] said, 'I'm going to restore the lost prestige of the United States of America. And I'm going to do that by basically building out defense capability,'" Cooperman recalled.

"Ditto for Trump," the hedge fund chief said.

President Ronald Reagan campaigns in Orange County California during his 1984 re-election campaign.
Dirck Halstead | Getty Images
President Ronald Reagan campaigns in Orange County California during his 1984 re-election campaign.

But Cooperman indicated that Trump may also face problems in an area that Reagan was not able to execute on either. "Reagan also said ... he was going to balance the budget. What he found out very quickly is you can't rebuild defense, cut taxes, reduce regulation and balance the budget."

"[Reagan] said the hell with the budget, and he bankrupted the Soviet Union," Cooperman said.

While the ramifications of Trump's policies remain to be seen, Cooperman said, "The fiscal package we put in place runs significant risks, but not a 2018 risk — 2019, 2020 and beyond."

The economy was doing well and did not need a lot of near-term stimulus, he said. "So we run the risk of an inflation surprise," which could lead to the Federal Reserve acting more forcefully to increase interest rates. The latest projections from the Fed called for three rate hikes in 2018 following the three from last year.

Trump's buy American push could also lead to higher inflation because some of the goods can be made cheaper overseas, Cooperman said.

Many analysts said concern about inflation finally picking up and what central bankers might do about it started the avalanche of stock market selling Friday, which turned into an ugly Monday and crazy volatility. Wall Street rebounded some on Tuesday and was heading for more gains on Wednesday.

Cooperman said he thinks the president's "economic ideas are good," but added Trump's "deportment is somewhat different" than he would like. "We have an unconventional president who likes to tweet."

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