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Icahn left Trump victory party to bet $1 billion on stocks

BloombergBloomberg 10/11/2016 Beth Jinks and Erik Schatzker

As Donald Trump celebrated his surprise election win over Hillary Clinton and equity futures swooned in response, billionaire investor and Trump supporter Carl Icahn headed home to start trading.

Icahn, 80, left President-elect Trump’s victory party in the early hours of the morning to bet about $1 billion ($AUD1.3b) on U.S. equities, he said Wednesday in a telephone interview on Bloomberg TV.

“I would have tried to put a lot more to work, but I couldn’t put more than about $1 billion ($AUD1.3b) to work, and then the market got away. But I’m still happy about it,’’ Icahn said. “The S&P was so liquid -- it was unbelievably liquid -- the world was going nuts. Last night it was amazing, the world was going into a panic with no reason.”

S&P 500 futures fell as much as 5 percent overnight, triggering trading curbs that prevent further declines. Contracts on the benchmark index all but erased that decline by the time markets opened at 9:30 a.m. in New York, and the benchmark index rose as much as 1.4 percent Wednesday.

Donald Trump © Reuters/MikeSegar Donald Trump Icahn also said he’d taken off some hedging trades last night, after saying in August that he was more hedged than ever.

Icahn, who endorsed Trump for president in September 2015 and had been mentioned as a potential Treasury secretary, said the U.S. economy isn’t out of the woods yet. However Trump’s election “is a positive for our economy, not a negative,” Icahn said.

BC-ICAHN-TRUMP: Carl Icahn. © Beth Jinks and Erik Schatzker Carl Icahn. Treasury Rebuff

Speaking earlier in a phone interview on CNBC, Icahn reiterated that he has no interest in taking on the role of Treasury secretary in Trump’s administration.

“I don’t think I’d be the right guy to fit into Washington, you know, I’m not an establishment guy,” Icahn said. “I never worked for anybody in my life.”

Icahn last year described Trump as the only campaigner speaking out on crucial business and economic concerns, and has maintained his endorsement since.

On Wednesday, Icahn reiterated his calls for reducing regulations that have “run amok” while saying some curbs, such as Dodd-Frank reforms for Wall Street, were necessary. Businesses need assurance that the government is on their side in order to increase capital spending and boost productivity, he said.

He again urged the government to undertake fiscal stimulus, particularly focused on infrastructure spending, and to ease tax rules to encourage U.S. companies to bring back cash amassed overseas.

In September 2015, Icahn posted a video on his website criticizing “the dysfunction that is going on both in Washington and the board rooms of corporate America” and lambasting the U.S. Congress for failing to reform taxes or immigration.

He backed Trump’s calls to strike tax deals to encourage corporations to bring back overseas profits and stay based in the U.S., and he supported Trump’s calls to end the carried interest tax discount for hedge fund and private equity managers. He also agreed with Trump that the Federal Reserve is overdue in beginning to raise interest rates.

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