Billionaire investor Ray Dalio was optimistic about a pro-business Donald Trump presidency immediately after the 2016 election. But by early 2017, Trump's populism and protectionism concerned the Bridgewater Associates founder.
By October, Dalio said the upcoming election will be "the greatest ideological clash in our lifetimes," but with "many more conflicts... with big implications." And in November, Dalio declared "the world has gone mad and the [capitalist] system is broken."
So as the primaries kick off, what are Dalio's thoughts on the looming 2020 presidential election? The hedge fund guru shared his view in a LinkedIn post on Tuesday titled: "What I Want in a President."
A president should be concerned about the opportunities available to workers in the U.S., according to Dalio (who in the past donated money to John McCain's campaign, according to OpenSecrets.org).
"I personally would like that president to both strive for equal opportunity and appreciate the diversity of values and perspectives that exists in this country because these things are of paramount importance to me," he wrote on LinkedIn.
Income inequality in the U.S. is highest of all the G7 nations (which includes the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Japan, France, Italy and the U.S.), according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In America, the wealth gap between the richest and poorest families more than doubled from 1989 to 2016, according to the Pew Research Center.
Dalio has expressed alarm regarding wealth inequality in the U.S, saying in July on CBS' "60 Minutes" that he would declare income inequality a "national emergency" if he were president of the United States.
"Capitalism needs to be reformed. ...[L]ike anything, like a car, like anything, a plane, a school system, anything, it needs to be reformed in order to work better," he said on "60 Minutes," adding that the U.S. economy is not "redistributing opportunity."
"The 'trickle-down' process of having money at the top trickle down to workers and others by improving their earnings and creditworthiness is not working, the system of making capitalism work well for most people is broken," Dalio said on LinkedIn in November.
According to Dalio, the bottom 60% of U.S. workers are not getting the same opportunities he did, as he said in April on CNBC's "Squawk Box."
Dalio wrote on LinkedIn on Tuesday that he would like the future president to "make clear what the American dream is, gather support for it, and have the capability to make that dream a reality."
On "60 Minutes," Dalio said "the American dream is lost."
Nearly three in 10 Americans believe the American dream is unattainable, a 2019 Gallup survey shows, but 70% believe the American dream is still personally achievable.
Gallup also found that those in higher-income households were more likely to believe the American dream is attainable. And the organization found that Republicans were more likely to have this view than Democrats.
"I'm capitalist, I'm a professional capitalist. The system has worked for me," Dalio said in April on "Squawk Box." "I didn't have anything and then I got something through the capitalist system." (Dailo founded Bridgewater Associates out of his two-bedroom apartment in New York City in 1975 and turned it into a giant with $160 billion in investments under management.)
Dalio said though it worked out for him, he questions whether there is the same opportunity for everyone in today's world.
"I look at myself as a byproduct of capitalism when it also gave equal opportunity, the American dream. I was very lucky to live the American dream by having the proper care and the proper public school education," he said on "Squawk Box." "A number of things have changed."
Dalio also emphasized personal qualities he would want a president to have, beyond just the next president's impact on the country's economy.
According to Dalio, he wants a president who "has made clear his/her principles and demonstrated through his/her actions a clear commitment to them," Dalio wrote on LinkedIn on Tuesday, alluding to his book, "Principles: Life and Work."
And while Dalio would "like these principles to be aligned with mine, even more important to me is that they are aligned with most Americans' principles so that this president can bring together our country to face our challenges in a more united and less divisive way."
Dalio would also like the next president "to appreciate thoughtful disagreement," he said on LinkedIn on Tuesday, referring to an ideal he writes about in "Principles." Dalio says that means "[exploring] different perspectives while also having the ability to go beyond the disagreements to make decisions after having taken into consideration all smart perspectives."
(Dalio has said he uses "thoughtful disagreement" in his own life, seeking out those who would disagree with his opinions so he can hear different perspectives. He's said it helped him personally go from "hardly any money" to rich and successful.)
"I don't want a president who demonizes any group of people – i.e., any ethnic, racial, religious, economic, professional, or sexual orientation group. I don't mind a president who has made mistakes because all human beings have made mistakes. On the contrary, I want a president who has made mistakes, owns up to them, and has learned from them," he wrote Tuesday.
All in all, Dalio says: "Most importantly I want a principled, strong, and fair president who has the support of and works for the majority of people."
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