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Bridgewater’s Dalio Slams Immigration Order

In their legendary “Daily Observations”, Dalio and co-CIO Bob Prince write of fears over “nationalism, protectionism and militarism” under President Donald Trump.

  • Michelle Celarier

Ray Dalio, CEO and founder of Bridgewater Associates – the world’s largest hedge fund – has become the first major hedge fund manager to publically come out against President Donald Trump’s recent immigration order.

Trump’s “America First” policy, his executive order on immigration, and trade protectionist views are evocative of the policies of populist governments in the 1930s, Dalio and co-CIO Bob Prince wrote in Bridgewater Associates’ “Daily Observations” note to clients on Tuesday. The note was first reported by Bloomberg.

Dalio’s statement comes after Trump, in his first week in office, issued two controversial executive orders: to build a wall with Mexico that would likely be paid for with an import tax, and a travel ban on those coming into the US from seven mostly-Muslim countries.

“Nationalism, protectionism and militarism increase global tensions and the risks of conflict,” the two wrote. “For these reasons, while we remain open-minded, we are increasingly concerned about the emerging policies of the Trump administration.”

The 67-year-old hedge fund manager, whose economic treatises are read by central bankers and investors around the world, has gone back and forth on Trump.

One week after Trump’s election, Dalio wrote on his LinkedIn page that “Donald Trump is moving forcefully to policies that put the stimulation of traditional domestic manufacturing above all else, that are far more pro-business.”

His initial post-election embrace of Trump was common among investors, who believed tax cuts and deregulation being proposed would be a boost to business and the economy.

In December, as the stock market continued to advance, Dalio showed even more optimism, writing on LinkedIn that “the Trump administration could have a much bigger impact on the US economy than one would calculate on the basis of changes in tax and spending policies alone because it could ignite animal spirits and attract productive capital.“

But Trump’s tough talk on trade and protectionism had always been a concern, and Dalio, a longtime Republican, had been skeptical of Trump during primary season.

But at an event for the David Lynch Foundation for Transcendental Meditation in late May, Dalio was asked what he thought of then-presumptive Republican presidential candidate Trump. In answering, according to an individual in attendance, he appeared annoyed. “Why are you asking me this question? What is there to say about this guy? He’s an imbecile,” he reportedly said.

By mid-January, Dalio appeared to be reverting to his initial skepticism of Trump. Speaking from the World Economic Forum in Davos, he said the rise of populism threatens multinational corporations and is the biggest force in the world today. “Globalism is threatened,” Dalio told Bloomberg Television’s Erik Schatzker. “The multinational corporation is in jeopardy. Emerging countries are threatened.”

At the time, he said it was uncertain whether Trump is “aggressive and thoughtful, or aggressive and reckless.”

The first week of Trump’s presidency seems to have answered that question for the Bridgewater executives – and reckless seems to have won out. On Tuesday, Dalio and Prince said the current investment environment is marked by “exceptional uncertainty.”

“While there is a lot of potential to improve fiscal policies and make beneficial structural reforms (to enhance the business friendly environment, reduce regulatory inefficiencies, etc.), there is also significant risk that his populist policies could hurt the world economy (and worse),” they wrote.