This evening's must read report comes from Hugh Hendry, arguably the most creative and free-thinking money manager in the world, of The Eclectica Fund.
Hugh Hendry Interview With King World News: "If Inflation Is A Monetary Phenomenon, Hyperinflation Is A Political Phenomenon"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/28/2010 15:27 -0400
In which we learn that that outspoken iconoclast has now taken on a $2 billion short position in Japanese credit, although presumably not cash-based as Ecclectica is well under that in AUM. For those who wish to recreate this position synthetically, we refer you to Dylan Grice's ATM swaption in the 10Y10Y forward which is the cheapest way to follow in Hugh's footsteps, and, ahem, may we remind you of Takefuji's recent bankruptcy...). His bet is in essence a gamble against the "China will never fail" bandwagon: "I am just intrigued as to the optionality, as to the profits that could be made, should that revert. And because it's deemed to be impossible, the trade is actually asymmetric. By golly if I am right, I can make a lot of money." Another topic is the already much discussed malinvestment in China, which was the centerpiece of the argument between Hendry and Faber from some time ago (link for clip). But back to what actual things Hugh is doing, he gives the following specifics: "I am shorting 10 year industrial corporate debt with 1% yield. Should this ricochet, which began in America, should the west be grappling with fears of recession, it goes to Asia, it goes to China, and I do not believe they have the vitality and consumption to pull the global economy out." And just in case there is any doubt how Hendry view the endgame, here it is:"At these immense levels of yen strength, Japan is bankrupt. And when it's bankrupt it has given up hope, and there is huge political legitimacy to then do quantitative easing, which leads to the debauchery of the system." In other words: the nuclear response of monetary debasement is certainly coming. We won't spoil what Hendry says on gold (suffice to add the following quote: "We will see a joint meltup in US Treasrys and gold") - for his insights on where the metal will go, for a shoutout to all Zero Hedge Hugh Hendry fans, and for much more, listen to the whole interview.
It is no longer fun being a hedge fund manager - first, up until the recent POMO-based rally in stocks, HFs were down for the year, and what is far worse, they were underperforming the broader market - a death sentence for pretty much every hedge fund, as this is proof a fund can not extract alpha and thus has no reason to collect 2 and 20. While the recent ramp in the market is welcome by all bulls, the question remains just how leveraged into the latest beta rally hedge funds have been. If after the nearly 10% rise in the past 2 weeks any individual HFs are still underperforming the market, it is a near certain "lights out." To everyone else: congratulations - you just bought yourself another 3 months of breathing room. Better hope the Fed makes good on its QE promises one day soon. In the meantime, Bloomberg Matthew Lynn and Ecclectica's Hugh Hendry both confirm that in these days of instantaneous liquidity demands, and cheap strategy replicators in the form of ETFs which provide the same beta capture as hedge funds, at a fraction of the price, it is only going to get worse and worse for the once high flying community. In fact, Hugh Hendry goes as far as suggesting that 10 years from now 80% of all hedge funds will be gone. Our personal view is that the target will be reached in a far shorter time frame.
With concerns about surging food prices recently inflamed courtesy of the series of fires in Russia and the halt of grains exports out of the country, several heavy hitters have come out recently to discuss their views. One among them is the man with the best YTD performing macro hedge fund according to Bloomberg, Hugh Hendry, who appeared on BBC's ever-informative Newsnight to discuss potash, food prices, and other scarce resources.
Being right pays off. Being an outspoken, funny, irreverent, non-sycophant, who has achieved the best 2010 YTD return according to Bloomberg's scoring of macro hedge funds, without holding a gun to the head of the American people and telling the president that the latest 100,000 sq. foot expansion wing in the third island palace is really for the common good, is priceless.
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."
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."
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.
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.
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
Must watch two part BBC series recapping recent events from the perspective of the other side of the pond, including some much needed "on location" reporting (as opposed to persistent theorizing of "what may happen"). The first part provides the background on the currency crisis and how hedge funds are profiting from shorting the euro. As a commentator points out, the dilemma is moral hazard or austerity measures. And while countries certainly prefer the former, sovereign bond and currency vigilantes are making the second the only viable outcome. The second part is a great exchange between Nobelist Stiglitz and the ever outspoken, and conversation dominating, Hugh Hendry.