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Leon Cooperman says Bernie Sanders is a bigger threat to the stock market than the coronavirus


Leon Cooperman

Olivia Michael | CNBC

Leon Cooperman thinks investors should be more worried about the long-term ramifications of a Bernie Sanders presidency for the stock market than about the coronavirus.

“I look at Bernie Sanders as a bigger threat [to the stock market] than the coronavirus,” Cooperman, the billionaire investor and founder of Omega Advisors, told CNBC’s Scott Wapner on the “Halftime Report.” “I don’t have any insight into the coronavirus, but I assume, with all the great minds of the world focused on this problem, that in three or four months this will become resolved.”

But “there are things that are very troubling to me. No. 1 is Bernie Sanders,” Cooperman said Tuesday. “He is not a socialist. He is, rather, a communist. … I just hope the country isn’t ready to elect a communist or a socialist. If we do, I think the market is in store for a big problem.”

Sanders identifies himself as a democratic socialist.

This isn’t the first time Cooperman has raised concern about the possibility of a Sanders presidency. In October, Cooperman said the market would crash by 25% if the Vermont senator or Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., won the Democratic nomination.

Sanders leads most national Democratic primary polls, outpacing former Vice President Joe Biden, Warren and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. He also eked out a victory over Buttigieg in the New Hampshire primary last week.

However, some of his proposals — including “Medicare for All” and a federal wage floor — have raised concerns among business owners and investors.

Cooperman is not the only one on Wall Street worried about Sanders winning the Democratic nomination. Last month, DoubleLine CEO Jeffrey Gundlach called Sanders the biggest risk to financial markets in 2020.

Cooperman added Tuesday investors have become too pessimistic on the energy sector and too optimistic on individual companies like Tesla.

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