Scaramucci says coronavirus crisis could help close the wealth gap

Anthony Scaramucci thinks the coronavirus crisis could be an opportunity to close the economic gaps in our society. But first we’ll have to get politicians to stop yelling at each other on cable TV.

Scaramucci, the voluble former White House communications director and also managing partner of investment firm Skybridge, also says that the Federal Reserve’s long standing policy of keeping interest rates low inadvertently contributed to widening the divide between the rich and poor.

“I hope [the COVID-19 pandemic] will cause people to take a pause, take inventory of what’s really important to them, and recognize that it’s in our best interests, through market forces to close the wealth gap, and to find ways to fortify people who may be blue collar workers, or lower middle income people, give them opportunity, and to make them feel aspirational about their lives, but also their children’s lives,” Scaramucci said in an interview with me. 

“Maybe this pandemic will be a wake-up call for policymakers, politicians, macro-economists, the very wealthy, the Forbes 400, where they’ll examine what’s going on in the society and say, OK, we can do this better, Scaramucci said. “And it won’t be any less yachts, or any less clothing, or fine dining for any individual. But it’ll be way better for the social progress of the society.” 

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Traders work in front of a board displaying the chart of Germany’s share index DAX at the stock exchange in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, on February 28, 2020. – Stock markets plunged further Friday, February 28, 2020, with equities on course for the largest weekly drop since the global financial crisis more than a decade ago on fears that the coronavirus could devastate the world economy, while oil prices tanked as well. (Photo by Daniel ROLAND / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL ROLAND/AFP via Getty Images)

28 February 2020, Hessen, Frankfurt/Main: An exchange trader at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange looks at his monitors. The most important German leading index, the Dax, fell by more than 5 percent in the morning. Concerns about a corona epidemic have been weighing on financial markets worldwide for days. Photo: Boris Roessler/dpa (Photo by Boris Roessler/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Mask-clad commuters make their way to work during morning rush hour at the Shinagawa train station in Tokyo on February 28, 2020. – Tokyo’s key Nikkei index plunged nearly three percent at the open on February 28 after US and European sell-offs with investors worried about the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

Mask-clad commuters make their way to work during morning rush hour at the Shinagawa train station in Tokyo on February 28, 2020. – Tokyo’s key Nikkei index plunged nearly three percent at the open on February 28 after US and European sell-offs with investors worried about the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

Mask-clad commuters make their way to work during morning rush hour at the Shinagawa train station in Tokyo on February 28, 2020. – Tokyo’s key Nikkei index plunged nearly three percent at the open on February 28 after US and European sell-offs with investors worried about the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

Mask-clad commuters make their way to work during morning rush hour at the Shinagawa train station in Tokyo on February 28, 2020. – Tokyo’s key Nikkei index plunged nearly three percent at the open on February 28 after US and European sell-offs with investors worried about the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 27: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on February 27, 2020 in New York City. With concerns growing about how the coronavirus might affect the economy, stocks fell for the fourth straight day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost almost 1200 points on Thursday. (Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images)

Traders work during the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on February 27, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City. – Wall Street stocks opened sharply lower, joining a sell-off in most global bourses on fears the coronavirus will grow into a significant international health crisis. About five minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.8 percent, or about 480 points. The blue-chip index has fallen the last five days. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

Traders work during the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on February 27, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City. – Wall Street stocks opened sharply lower Thursday, joining a sell-off in most global bourses on fears the coronavirus will grow into a significant international health crisis. About five minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.8 percent, or about 480 points. The blue-chip index has fallen the last five days. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

Traders work during the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on February 27, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City. – Wall Street stocks opened sharply lower, joining a sell-off in most global bourses on fears the coronavirus will grow into a significant international health crisis. About five minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.8 percent, or about 480 points. The blue-chip index has fallen the last five days. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

Traders work during the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on February 27, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City. – Wall Street stocks opened sharply lower Thursday, joining a sell-off in most global bourses on fears the coronavirus will grow into a significant international health crisis. About five minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.8 percent, or about 480 points. The blue-chip index has fallen the last five days. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

Traders work during the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on February 27, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City. – Wall Street stocks opened sharply lower Thursday, joining a sell-off in most global bourses on fears the coronavirus will grow into a significant international health crisis. About five minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.8 percent, or about 480 points. The blue-chip index has fallen the last five days. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

Traders work during the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on February 27, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City. – Wall Street stocks opened sharply lower Thursday, joining a sell-off in most global bourses on fears the coronavirus will grow into a significant international health crisis. About five minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.8 percent, or about 480 points. The blue-chip index has fallen the last five days. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

The TSE Arrows market centre is seen at the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) in Tokyo on February 26, 2020. – Tokyo stocks opened lower on February 26 extending losses on Wall Street, as the coronavirus continued to spread and public officials warned of the increasing likelihood of a pandemic. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP) (Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)

A pedestrian stands in front of an electronic quotation board displaying share prices of the Nikkei 225 Index in Tokyo on February 26, 2020. – Tokyo stocks opened lower on February 26 extending losses on Wall Street, as the coronavirus continued to spread and public officials warned of the increasing likelihood of a pandemic. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP) (Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)

TOKYO, JAPAN – FEBRUARY 25: Pedestrians wearing face masks walk past a monitor displaying the Nikkei 225 index and other financial figures outside a securities firm on February 25 in Tokyo, Japan. The Nikkei index dropped more than 3.5 percent at the open on Monday as global concerns grow about the economic impact of the Coronavirus. (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 25: Traders work through the closing minutes of trading Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange floor on February 25, 2020 in New York City. Fueled by deepening concerns of the Coronavirus becoming a global pandemic, the stock market plunged Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing almost 900 points. (Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images)

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The income and wealth gap, which has increasingly vexed American society over the past several decades, certainly hasn’t diminished during the coronavirus crisis. In fact, the gap between the haves and have-nots has been brought into sharp relief during the pandemic, as the disease has particularly ravaged lower income Americans because they can’t work from home as readily, can’t social distance as easily and don’t have access to the best health care.

Pols need multi-decade plans to fix problems

Scaramucci, who likes to point out his working class roots and how he climbed the economic ladder, notes that that kind of mobility is harder to come by today. “Real incomes are down 20% to 25% over 30 years, for [working class] people,” he said. “We’ve moved those people from aspirational to desperational.”

El ex director de comunicaciones de la Casa Blanca, Anthony Scaramucci, gesticula durante una entrevista con The Associated Press en Jerusalén, el 20 de noviembre de 2017. (AP Foto/Ariel Schalit)

I asked Scaramucci if we’d have to legislate change.

“Well, I certainly believe that,” he said. “I think somebody looking back on this period of time, from 2007 to where we are now would say that the monetary policy, the accident of the monetary policy, which was very healing after the crisis, probably created some of the income divide.”

“When you lowered rates like that, the people that held the assets, they got the inflation,” Scaramucci said. “You didn’t get much wage growth. I think that’s where the anger is.”

The solutions Scaramucci says are what he calls, “the tough things, like an infrastructure bill, a jobs training bill, a long-term plan, not a two-minute plan, but a 10- or 20-year plan to rightsize the K through 12 public education process.” That he said would have put us in a different environment today. 

“What I fear right now, is because politicians have in general been more interested in excoriating each other on cable news is that they’ll allow for that easy one-step solution, which is global coordinated monetary policy, printing of money, and that sort of thing. And I’m hoping that they’ll think way more long term. There’s things in our country that can be fixed, but they’re 10, 20, or possibly even 30-year fixes.”

Scaramucci, who says he might consider running for office someday himself, acknowledges few politicians have multi-decade plans to fix problems. 

“Hopefully this shock will cause people to say, you know what? We’ve got to find leaders and political leadership that are more focused on the long term and more focused on fortifying the entire society than the short-term gimmicks and the soundbites that are effective on cable news,” he said.

Tall order, that.

Andy Serwer is editor-in-chief of Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter: @serwer.

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