In a CNBC interview last month, Social Capital Founder and CEO Chamath Palihapitiya argued that in order to “dig out” of the current crisis, money needs to be placed in the hands of Americans, not delivered to major corporations in the hopes that it will “trickle down.”
Here are some key takeaways from the interview:
- Palihapitiya described the idea of “bailing out” large companies as a “ridiculous kind of shameful thing,” adding that large corporations, before the pandemic, were exercising “the most absolutely horrid and idiotic forms of capital allocation you could imagine.” Rather than investing in R&D or raising wages, he asserted, they were repurchasing shares and “inflating their earnings per share to drive their own personal compensation”—a pattern that has developed over the last 15 to 20 years.
- According to Palihapitiya, corporate bailouts should be accompanied by “much tighter guardrails” around how the capital is allocated going forward.
- “The only way we are going to dig ourselves out” of the current crisis, says Palihapitiya, is “by focusing on the consumer” and putting more money in the pockets of Americans who are “unbelievable at spending.” As a result, he said, “the businesses that understand how to give a great customer experience will win,” and the money will “eventually flow into shareholder pockets.” Giving more money to CEOs and boards, he argues, is “idiotic and dumb.”
- According to Palihapitiya, it’s more difficult to run a small business than a large one. Small business owners, he argues, must “make good capital allocation decisions every day. They need to hire great people, train them, build a culture.” If they are given capital, he says, “they will do so much better.”
- Regarding the stock market, Palihapitiya says he sees it rising further regardless of who wins the presidential election: “I think the presidency and the impact of the presidency is being divorced from the economic future and prosperity of America.” He notes that the Treasury (monetary policy) and the Fed (fiscal policy) are “acting in lockstep” and will have a greater impact on “what the next four years looks like” than the election outcome.
- “The ultimate reality is that until and unless inflation goes up, rates are not going up,” says Palihapitiya, adding that the Fed “has explicitly told us that they’re not going to touch these rates until 2023, at the earliest.”
- Regarding where the ordinary American can find growth in this kind of environment, Wapner asked Palihapitiya to comment on “snowflake” stocks such as Tesla. “The most incredible thing about Tesla,” Palihapitiya said, “it all the money was made by retail” investors, “every single dollar. Because every single institutional investor had found a way to throw pot shots, be sure, think they knew, and they turned out to be completely utterly wrong.”
- According to Palihapitiya , “going forward, it is really up to individuals to work in communities, to understand companies and businesses together, and then to help each other underwrite the ability to own a stock. I think what will happen is, you’ll find more Teslas.”