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Howard Marks: beware the rise of the anti-capitalists

In his latest memo to clients, billionaire distressed-debt investor Howard Marks admits he is increasingly concerned about rising “anti-capitalist sentiment” in the US.

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Howard Marks, founder of Oaktree Capital

Howard Marksfounder, Oaktree Capital

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However, notes Marks, the "left wing of the Democratic Party is becoming a formidable bloc." Two of Sanders' fellow members of the Democratic Socialistsof America, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez andJulia Salazar both of whom describe themselves as "radical" won elections last year in New York.

The problem, says Marks, is that "for the 60 years... following World War II, much of the world enjoyed a rising tide of prosperity that lifted all boats". As a result, most Americans happily accepted capitalism and free markets. But now, people feel that "the tide is no longer rising to the same extent... Their unhappiness crystallises in populism". That ire needs a target capitalism.

"Increased equality of income and improvementfor people below the top... are worthy goals, and I support them," says Marks. However, eroding property rights, intervening in the running of private businesses, and putting up top tax rates above 80% as already proposed by some Democrat presidential candidates "would be worse for just about everyone". Marks notes, paraphrasing Winston Churchill: "I'm convinced that capitalism is the worst economic system... except for all the rest".

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