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Leon Cooperman says the Fed made a mistake cutting rates: 'You're screwing the savers'

Key Points
  • Billionaire Leon Cooperman says he believes the Fed's interest rate cuts hurt Americans hoping to keep money in the bank: "You're screwing the savers."
  • "I side with the two Fed governors that were against cutting rates. Rates were already low," Cooperman tells CNBC.
  • The Fed approved a rate cut of one quarter point on Wednesday despite officials describing the labor market as "strong" and GDP growth as "moderate."
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Leon Cooperman: Interest rates are not the economy's issue

Billionaire investor Leon Cooperman on Thursday said he believes that the Federal Reserve is "screwing the savers" by cutting interest rates like they did for the second time this year on Wednesday.

"I side with the two Fed governors that were against cutting rates. Rates were already low," Cooperman said.

"Just think about it this way: You have a 35-40% marginal tax rate, you're getting 2% on your cash if you're lucky," he continued. "You keep 60% of the 2%, that's 1.2%. The inflation rate is running 2%: You have a negative return on savings."

Cooperman spoke to CNBC's Scott Wapner from the Delivering Alpha conference presented by CNBC and Institutional Investor.

The Fed approved a rate cut of one quarter point on Wednesday, but offered little for investors hoping for hints that the central bank would lower borrowing costs toward the end of 2019. Officials continued to describe the U.S. labor market as "strong," but note that business leaders have grown wary of President Donald Trump's trade wars since taking office in 2017.

"The weakness in the economy, in my opinion, is directly attributable to the president's dialogue on tariffs," Cooperman, who founded Omega Advisors in 1991, said from the conference. "What we do with China, I understand makes sense. But threatening Mexico, threatening Canada, threatening Europe makes no sense."

"This has created great uncertainty in the business community," he added. "They don't know where to put the supply lines, they don't know where to build their plants. So their cutting back on" capital expenditures.

Cooperman's main fund generated annualized returns of 12.4% since inception versus the S&P 500′s 9.5% return including reinvested dividends, according to Institutional Investor. Omega Advisors converted to a family office at the end of 2018 after Cooperman said he'd rather not spent the rest of his life "chasing the S&P 500."

Cooperman has a personal net worth of $3.2 billion, according to Forbes.

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