In his traditionally curt and to the point way, Hugh Hendry proclaims his "love" for the president, in this rare profile piece on the Scottish fund manager by the NYT. While none of his opinions will come as a surprise to Zero Hedge regulars ("The euro? It’s finished, Mr. Hendry proclaims. China? Headed for a fall."), we do recommend the article to those still unfamiliar with one of the truly iconoclastic fund manager still left in the open. While Hendry does not run a fund nearly as large as some behemoths out there (his Ecletica is less than $1 billion, John Paulson is $30), it does afford him a nimbleness that JP (whose recent rumored liquidations in the gold market are destined to create feedback loops that further accelerate liquidations) or, much more blatantly, Pimco (with its $1 trillion + in Treasuries, Corporates, Sovereigns and Mortgages) which is the market in all its verticals, can only dream about. It also affords him the opportunity to say what is on his mind, and on those of many others, who however dread the political consequences for being a little too honest. It is this forthrightness and honesty that has reserved Hendry a sterling place within the Zero Hedge community, his candor regularly scoring posts receiving well over 20k reads (and at 60k hits, his "I recommend you panic" is among the Top 20 most popular Zero Hedge posts of all time.
In this interview by Bloomberg's Erik Shatzker (we have added the full interview, not the abbreviated version), Hugh Hendry tries hard not to dance on the euro's grave... and fails. He compares the European currency to the gold standard in the 1920's: "We are now seeing a conflict between domestic stability, prosperity and the need for external balance, and that typically rings the bell on such a system." He further discusses George Soros' recent media appearances and his recent Op-Ed in which as was noted, the Hungarian is very concerned about the eurozone courtesy of Germany's non-Keynesian actions. In tried and true fashion, Hendry doesn't mince his words: "George is someone we all aspire to match his brilliance. But remember the richest people in the planet become socialists. Socialism is a great thing for George. I want to bring George down. I want George's reputation. But George is now embracing socialism. Socialism is where you build a moat around the castle. I am spending all of my time trying to decide where I'm gonna live, because taxes country in this are so high, and less of my time trying to work out how do I surpass Soros and his reputation." And his take home message: "The noose is getting tighter and tighter... not in Europe, but in Asia."
A few weeks ago Zero Hedge offered a modest critique of Jeffrey Sachs after his disastrous performance in a round table debate with Hugh Hendry and Gillian Tett, in which the Columbia professor came out sounding as clueless as a first year economics major. It now appears that Mr. Sachs may be attempting to atone for his myopia memorialized by the BBC, in the following FT Op-Ed in which he unabashedly lashes out at Keynesianism. In it we read: "Mainstream Keynesian economics is facing its last hurrah. The global fiscal stimulus championed last year by the Obama administration is coming undone, repudiated by the same Group of 20 that endorsed it last year. Now, against a backdrop of a widening sovereign debt crisis, we need to abandon short-term thinking in favour of the long-term investments needed for sustained recovery." Such words of caution from a man who as recently as two weeks ago was encouraging precisely the very steps he is now purporting to be against. Nonetheless, we greet with open arms this most recent act of contrition by yet another economist who leaves the warm innards of the corpse of the economic false religion, and finally sees the light. Welcome Jeffrey.
Oh, what a tangled web we live in. On one side of the Atlantic, there is a fundamentally broke European Union. On the other, the world’s largest debtor nation, these United States. Rotate the globe and you discover China, the world’s most populous nation: a nation whose economy is desperately dependent on export revenues, without which its government may find it hard to meet the population’s soaring aspirations. And who is China’s largest trading partner? The European Union, that’s who. The web also encompasses the role that the U.S. dollar plays in the relationship between the European Union and the Chinese. Or, more specifically, the role the peg plays that China maintains with the U.S. dollar. As long as the U.S. dollar is weak, the Chinese yuan is weak and therefore competitive in European markets. The problem now is that, with the euro falling, in order to remain competitive, Chinese companies must reduce their margins. Therein lies the rub, because the razor-thin margins of the Chinese companies – estimated to be on the order of just 2% -- face the very real danger of thinning to the vanishing point. After which the best a Chinese company will be able to hope for is to make up its losses on volume. That was a joke.
We apologize in advance for harping back on this issue, but it is pretty damn hilarious. In the BBC Newsnight interview with Hendry, Tett and Sachs, the esteemed Columbia professor, at 4:50 into the clip, asks "How long has this Greek question been on the table. Ablout 10 weeks maybe?" A rather violent explosion from Sachs follows when Hendry calls him out on his tenured stupidity. All this was discussed yesterday. However, we wanted to provide a response to the Ivy League professor, as he did pose a legitimate question. In the following FT interview from January 2009, Hugh Hendry discussed the future of the eurozone and the PIIGS, and at 24 seconds into it, he provides the response Sachs is seeking: "I fear [the collapse of the Eurozone] is becoming more likely." He follows "If we saw parity with the euro, my goodness, that would be deemed to be unthinkable." And concludes, "There is a shortage of dollars. People think I'm crazy - they are printing billions, trillions of dollars. But keep in mind America has $50 trillion of debt outstanding. And that was fine because they thought it had $50 trillion of assets. And what we are discovering is these asset prices deflate - it's vaporization..." Dear Mr. Sachs - the very person you were sitting across the table from foresaw everything to the dot, just as it would happen 16 months later, even as you were calling up old buddies to get that Teacher of the Year award, or get that extra fellowship (in demagoguery?). Our advice to you is do what your parents did, get (an honest) job sire.... which will never happen - pouring the Kool Aid is easy and pays well. So here is our second bit of advice: watch all Hendry appearances, and listen to what he says. He will always ends up right, and you will always be wrong, since you defend a broken system which is fated for implosion. And just as Hendry sees deflation first, then hyperinflation (and watch this clip for some more brilliant insight), so it shall be. And for some reason people like Sachs will once again be invited to roundtables, in which they will goundlessly claim that nobody foresaw any of ensuing Keynesian collapse... So now that we have answered your question, we have one of our own - how does Columbia allow this level of mediocrity to be publicized on national television?
The endlessly entertaining Hugh Hendry, who gave Jeffrey Sachs a royal beatdown yesterday and pretty much discredited the Columbia professor for life, is back in this interview with Money Week's Merryn Webb, in which he once again is not afraid to make "bold" statements. Such as that hyperinflation is pretty much inevitable, that China is the functional equivalent of the Next fashion chain in the 1980s, that instead of listening to idiots on TV who just talk their high beta books, investors should buy the largest and safest stocks. Interestingly, Hendry actually suggests a viable way to fix America's problems, which would require China to write off its US debt, thus "securing the health and vitality of China's biggest customer." Alas, we don't think it would be sufficient, as China holds about $1 trillion of US debt (at least officially). For the Hendry plan to work, debt repudiation would have to go viral, with all banks, US and European, writing down foreign debts as well. Of course, this would bring about the crash of the financial system overnight which is why it won't happen. And yes, it still will crash, as the financed assets are bled of all their cash flows, but at least the grind into systemic bankruptcy will be slow, painful (for the middle class) and very drawn out. As for hyperinflation, Hendry's view coincides with that of Zero Hedge: "the current deflationary shock will deepen and then create "political legitimacy to go nuclear with hyperinflation" via the printing press."
Since college students are already likely to end up living back at home with their parents after they graduate as the job horizon will appear no better in four years than it is today, why not spend that time immersed in self-education of how the financial and monetary systems really work? In the process, students will save their parents hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition and save themselves the ignoble fate of being a sheep led to the slaughter by banking shills like Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman and Jeffrey Sachs.
BBC Newsnight held another great financial round table discussion (why do these occur only in Canada and across the Atlantic? Is it so difficult to have 20 minutes of commercial free debate here in the US where people can actually tell the truth?) which brought together Hugh Hendry, Gillian Tett and Jeffrey Sachs. As usual, Hendry takes it odd with a bang: "I would recommend you panic. The European banking system is in a crisis." He continues: "Let's purge this system of its rottenness. Let's take on a recession. It's going to be tough, people are gonna lose their jobs. They are going to lose their jobs anyway. We can spread this over 20 years, or we can get rid of it over 3 years." Of course, the Columbia professor, is completely against purging the system: how else can US higher "educators" continue to indoctrinate generation after generation with the flawed principles of a bankrupt ideology, and continue getting getting paid handsomely if there is an global reset? Even funnier, Jeffrey Sachs loses it when Hendry calls him out on his BS at 5 minutes into the clip. The ensuing smackdown is worth the price of admission alone.
A few days ago we pointed out that Seth Klarman is bracing for yet another lost decade, as the legendary Baupost investor anticipates nothing good out of government incursion in capital markets, and has come up with the best description for the fake, busted and heart attack inducing market yet, comparing it to a "hostess twinkie" (full must read article summarizing his speech at the CFA Institute here). Another must read piece, for those who may have missed it the first time around, is his summary of lessons learned and unlearned from the financial crisis, found here. Today, the WSJ's Jason Zweig has a follow up on Klarman, who, as we noted earlier "is more worried than ever" and concludes that "all we got out of this crisis was a Really Bad Couple of Weeks mentality. I am more worried about the world, more broadly, than I ever have been in my career." And they say Zero Hedge is bearish...
Regular readers will know Zero Hedge's fascination with Hugh Hendry, who so far has been spot on in his predictions on this business cycle and bear market rally. Here is his most recent May 2010 letter, in which topics are critical as China and hyperinflation/deflation are deconstructed in a way that only the former Goldman/Odey partner can. Must read.
Hugh Hendry, whose previous appearances have been well-logged by Zero Hedge, and who is currently raking the money thanks to long Treasury bet and his EURUSD short from when the pair was 20% higher, has never been a fan of China, and almost got into a fight with Marc Faber recently discussing the country's future prospects. In fact, Hendry uttered this memorable soundbite back in February, in which he mopped the floor with Goldman permabull Jim "BRIC" O'Neill: "I love Jim O'Neill. I love that Goldman Sachs guy. He says you either get it, or you don't. I don't get it. In the future there will be a Confucius saying: the wise man not invest in overcapacity. The flaw of the business model, at the center of it is a craving for power as opposed to profit." BusinessWeek reports that Hendry has now officially put his money where his mouth is and has bought puts on 20 companies that will profit from “a dramatic collapse” of China’s growth. With the Chinese stock market approaching 52 week lows, will Ecclectica soon become the next Paulson & Co. hedge fund iteration, even as the latter continues (allegedly) to bet on a US recovery, and thus stands to lose tens of billions if the thesis does not play out (although we are fairly confident Paulson's long stock positions are matched by even longer CDS hedges... but without additional data, we can never be sure).
Yesterday we pointed out that France was a global top three derisker in sovereign CDS as traders have shifted their worries from the periphery to the core. We have long discussed that the reason for this is that France, not Germany, has the greatest exposure to Greece and the PIIGS. Below is an RT clip in which Hugh Hendry confirms just this: according to the Ecclectica head man, a mark to realistic market of Greek debt would wipe out E35 billion in French bank capital, "and it is questionable whether the French banking system would take such a hit." Hendry's solution, as has been the case from the solution, is for Greece to leave the euro, and points out that due to FX inflexibility, there will be no tourists in Greece this year as everything becomes painfully expensive, not in Drachmas but in Euros. We would add that the burning parliament is probably not that much of a tourist draw either. In typical fashion, Hugh dismembers Angela Merkel's hypocrisy: "When the truth becomes unpalatable, what is the truth. Angela Merkel, when we say she is being generous, there is nothing generous about spending taxpayers' money in another country, that is not generosity, that is merely trying to salvage a bankrupt set of political ideology. So to blame the messenger when it's the truth that hurts, I find that inexcusable." Just as Hugh's huge bet against the euro has proven to be a terrific success, we are confident that he will be correct about the end of the EMU quite soon as well. And as the moderator adds "Shame on you, Europe, for needing the IMF to bail you out. Europe is like an African nation." Amen.
Gary Shilling On The Chinese Excess Capacity "House Of Cards", Sees Yuan Dropping If China Relaxes ControlsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/13/2010 11:55 -0400
Gary Shilling is now firmly in the anti-China contrarian bandwagon. In this interview with Bloomberg's Erik Schtazker the legendary investor, who called Japan's lost decade when everyone was just as bullish on Japan as Goldman is now on China, Shilling shares the same view on Chinese record excess capacity as Hugh Hendry did some months ago: "You can't trust the [Chinese] numbers... They have kickstarted their economy in the last year - it's a stop go economy, they can do it fast, they don't have to worry about EPA audits, they just let the bulldozers roll when they want to build a new road or whatever. The point is they build an awful lot of excess capacity and the question is how are they going to use it because American consumers aren't buying their exports the way they used to and their domestic economy isn't that strong... Chinese consumer spending is 36% of GDP and is a declining share over the last two decades. They don't have a a big enough middle class. In China there were 110 million people with over $5k per capita income, enough to give them discretionary spending but that was only 8% of the population. In this country it is 80% of the population." And on the yuan: "If they took off all the controls and Chinese could invest abroad, the yuan would probably go down because people would want to diversify... I think the political leaders are aware of that possibility they sure don't want to be pushed around, and Obama made a huge in trying to push them again. Remember China was dominated by European in the last century and they want to run their own country." While we completely agree with Schilling, we believe that the current transformation in US society, which is in the last throws of contract abrogation, in not paying mortgage and credit card bills, we may well see a last push in Chinese imports, after which any disposable income in the US middle class will plunge and will take the US economy down with it as well. The problem, as we have repeatedly pointed out, the cash return on such "assets" as iPads and Kindles is zero, not nearly enough to pay down 39.95% APR credit cards.
Eclectica February performance and position update. Hugh still likes them cancer sticks.
Hedge funds are not seeking to dictate economic affairs. Rather we are preoccupied by price. A market-based economy like ours requires a pricing mechanism to allocate resources and ensure that we all prosper. Get it wrong and we endure the calamity of the technology bubble and the sleazy debacle of the American mortgage crisis. It's not that hedge fund managers are bitter and seek to wreak havoc. It's just that we believe that recurring and periodic recessions reveal the economy's winners and losers. And through our endeavours, hedge funds attempt to discover the identity and inadequacies of the poor businesses. During hard times, such businesses typically go bust, allowing us to make an investment profit by betting on that eventuality, and ensuring that successful and prudently managed businesses prosper. - Hugh Hendry