No, Actually Bill Gross IS Short Treasurys
In the funniest piece of news today, we have Bill Gross accusing a "blogger" of spreading misinformation that Pimco, and especially the firm's Total Return Fund is short Treasurys, in order to defend himself from CNBC that he is underperforming the market in the current bond rally (somehow Roswell flying saucers got mixed up too). While it is unfortunate that Gross will actually not man up and tell the truth (and yes, you can be off by a month or a year in what is a correct call Bill - there is no shame in that, and you certainly don't have to defend your view to a bunch of teleprompter reading CNBC marionettes). Well, guess what: PIMCO is short Treasury, as disclosed by both Market Value and Duration Weighted Exposure. And while one can hide, if one so desires for disgruntled LP purposes, behind semantics, and Gross can say he is not notionally short cash Treasurys, he most certainly has a sizable synthetic short exposure. Those who actually wish to do the forensic analysis on the April TRF portfolio, will not that that his duration of the various sectors shows he is selling some long dated swaps/swaptions to obtain his negative US Govt exposure given his market value of govt holdings was -9,628 MM, dollar duration was -189,340 resulting in an avg duration of 19.7 yrs. And while HY exposure has been moving out the maturity spectrum as well, from 2.6 yrs to 3.0 yrs to 3.4 yrs, his cash has grown shorter from 5.6 yrs to 4.3 yrs to 4.0 yrs over the past 3 months. Perhaps next time anyone interviewing Gross will ask something more substantial than textbook "finance for retards/CNBC anchors" questions and demand an answer from the bond titan just how many hundreds of billions in UST short equivalent eurodollar notionals he has on his books? And while we wish we had an updated TRF holding (the last one is as of December 31, 2010), even using even stale data, we find that at the end of 2010 TRF had $608.3 billion in Net Futures held SHORT (link), and $588 billion in Eurodollar positions, which is precisely where his marginal synthetic rate bias/exposure is contained. Yes. This is a short equivalent position.
So yes - we are confident that the semantic sticklers, to whom Greece is merely undergoing a Sovereign Liability Management exercise, will buy Gross' attempt at a mea culpa hook line and sinker (and we urge them to read something like Eurodollars for Idiots so they can understand what is going on here). To everyone else, who has moved beyond Finance 101 and understands that cash and synthetic exposure can actually be combined to lead to a specific result, Gross is not only short (in the TRF), but in the case of his Unconstrained Bond Fund, massively so, to the tune of -42% in Market Value (link).
Here is Gross' comedic defense of his conviction short in US paper.
And elsewhere, during an interview with Bloomberg, Gross went so far to basically insult people's intelligence. When asked if he is short on Treasuries, his response:
We are not. To a certain extent, it may be our fault because we have a category in terms of our monthly release that is called treasury or treasury related securities. It could be Treasuries, it could be agencies, it could be swaps which sophisticated bond investors know are entirely different from Treasuries so the extent that it shows up as a short then it's almost entirely been in the swap category as opposed to the Treasuries. The Total Return Fund has had tens of billions of dollars worth of treasuries, to some extent in short-term Treasuries and bills and and collateralized repo. It has never been a question of Pimco in terms of the Treasury's reputation and its potential to default. It has always been a question of value in terms of interest rates relative to other alternatives."
So.... in the hypothetical example where you are long $10 million Greek bonds, and are "hedged" by being long $1 trillion in Greek CDS, you are still "long"Greece... Bill? Bill?