There are various reasons why not only we at Zero Hedge are big fans of Hugh Hendry. One of them of course is his uncanny ability to not only tell the truth, but to bash his competitors faces into it (as Joseph Stiglitz so vividly recalls), even if it means running squarely against the consensus. The other reason are self-aware statements such as this one via the FT today: "What I found was that when I speak in person, and especially when it’s television and timing is so acute, it gives the impression that I am cavalier and, if you will, full of myself,” says Mr Hendry, speaking by phone from his office in Bayswater, central London." Hendry was obviously discussing his self-imposed media blackout which unlike other prominent financiers is not being used for book sales promotion purposes but appears quite genuine. It also means he won't get to collect $200/appearance fees as a guest contributor on CNBC but we digress. "The danger when people look at that from a distance is that they try to align that with the guy that they’ve just given $50m or $75m to and it’s not the same person." iI is sad that none of the other talking muppet heads and "daily pundits" who appear on financial comedy TV to merely blow smoke up assorted holes and talk their books, don't share Hendry's revelations a little more often.
Still, what Hendry says and thinks influences many. So here is where he stands right now courtesy of the FT:
What does Mr Hendry believe?
At the Milken Institute conference in May, he told the audience that France was just a year away from nationalising its banks and that politicians had still not faced up to the scale of the global debt bubble that was now imploding.
“We have reached a profound point in economic history where the truth is unpalatable to the political class – and that truth is that the scale and magnitude of the problem is larger than their ability to respond – and it terrifies them.”
Three years after Mr Hendry posted videos on YouTube of his visits to Chinese ‘ghost’ towns, he remains pessimistic about the Middle Kingdom. He is shorting the equity of Chinese state-owned enterprises, balanced by a long position in a basket of Asian non-discretionary consumer stocks.
He is also using credit default swaps to bet against the debt of financially leveraged Japanese companies such as Toshiba, which he believes are particularly exposed to a Chinese slowdown.
Mr Hendry insists that his reputation as a “contrarian” investor is wrong, and that his approach is in fact to take advantage of the prevailing momentum in markets. “Our ideas are harshly disciplined by market trends. You will never see us pursue a homegrown idea when it is to the detriment of the prevailing trend.”
For example, he reckons US government bond yields, already at record lows, will continue to fall. And, although he professes not to be a contrarian, he is more optimistic about the US than many investors and is “long the debt-saddled west and short the vastly over-vaunted and over-owned” Bric quartet of Brazil, Russia, India and China.
He believes that financial markets are single-digit years away from a crash that will present investors with opportunities of a lifetime. “Bad things are going to happen and I still think the closest analogy is the 1930s.”
But nothing captures the spirit of Hendry as much as the following clip from 2010. Pure mastery.