Billionaire Entrepreneur Complains of Regime Uncertainty

Speaking to CNBC in Las Vegas recently, Steve Wynn, the billionaire developer and operator of entertainment properties, said: “Washington is unpredictable these days. No one has any idea what’s next . . . the uncertainty of the business climate in America is frightening, frightening to everybody, and it’s delaying recovery.” Wynn complains of “wild, uncontrolled spending” and “unbelievable, unsustainable debt.”

Wynn also has operations in China, and he remarks that he “has no qualms about dealing with the Chinese government. Macau has been steady. The shocking, unexpected government is the one in Washington.” Not very long ago, such a statement would itself have been shocking.

The gambling and real estate magnate expresses concerns about inflation, FHA’s making the same mistakes Fannie and Freddie have made, and the business costs arising from the new health-care law. “We’re on our way to Greece,” he declares, “in the hands of a confused, foolish government.” Exasperated, he mutters, “It’s got to stop. It’s got to stop.”

These observations remind me of similar statements made by investor Lammot du Pont in 1937: “Uncertainty rules the tax situation, the labor situation, the monetary situation, and practically every legal condition under which industry must operate.” Even members of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s cabinet eventually appealed to him to clear the air in which private investors were finding it difficult to breathe, but he refused to do so, preferring to plunge ahead with the New Deal and to publicly blame “economic royalists” for his policies’ failures.

Du Pont was hardly the only one making such observations in 1937 about regime uncertainty’s negative effect on recovery, and Wynn is hardly the only one now making such observations.

Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute, author or editor of over fourteen Independent books, and Editor at Large of Independent’s quarterly journal The Independent Review.
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