Ken Langone, billionaire businessman and philanthropist, offered a message of calm for investors worried about the economic impact of the coronavirus and all Americans worried about the potential of being infected.
The rapid stock market correction since the Dow Jones Industrial Average‘s record high earlier this month “far, far surpasses” the severity of the outbreak, Lagone told CNBC on Friday. “What I see more as a problem than anything else is this panic. And there is a panic going on if you look at the market.” He added that the virus’ risk to the U.S. is being overblown.
The Dow was losing about 2% again on Friday. Thursday’s nearly 4.4% decline was the worst day back to February 2018. The Dow’s nearly 1,200-point plunge Thursday was its worst point-loss ever. For the week, the Dow was tracking for its worst weekly performance since the 2008 financial crisis.
He called the coronavirus, which started in China in December and has since spread to many countries around the world, a “serious issue.” But he said the world’s hospitals, including NYU Langone, and government leaders are doing “everything” that should be done.
“Let the scientists do their work. Let the government leaders do their work,” he said in a “Squawk Alley” interview. “I urge everybody to be calm, be cool, be collected.”
Langone said that goes for investors concerned about the stock market and everyone worried about contracting the virus. “Don’t let your emotions run away with you,” he stressed. “Don’t give up on America and don’t give up on the world. It’s not that time.” Months from now, this week’s market plunge is doing to look like a great buying opportunity, he added.
A longtime GOP supporter and a backer of President Donald Trump, Langone said that battling the coronavirus crisis is not a political issue. He urged Republicans and Democrats to work together on solutions to mitigate the chances of the virus becoming an epidemic in the United States.
There are nearly 84,000 total coronavirus cases around the world with nearly 2,900 fatalities.
However, the World Health Organization said that outside China there are 4,351 cases and 67 deaths. The WHO added there are 48 countries being affected — including the U.S., which has 61 cases. Most of the American cases are evacuees from Wuhan, China — the epicenter of the outbreak — and the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined off the coast of Japan.