Can the credit crisis get any worse? In this week's Outside the Box my London partner Niels Jensen shows that it indeed can. Banks, and mainly European banks, have large exposure to emerging market debt of all types through both sovereign, corporate and individual loans. Just as banks have had to write down large losses from the subprime crisis and other related problems, next will come a wave of potential losses from yet another source. Niels then goes on to give us a look the size and problems with hedge fund deleveraging. Altogether, this is a very interesting letter and one that is written from a non-US point of view that I think you will find instructive.
This week we will look at what will be a fairly controversial essay by good friend Michael Lewitt of HCM. In light of today's speech by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson of the re-organization of the regulatory system in the US, Michael suggest we look at what the real problems are before we begin the process of re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. For many, some of what he says will be considered economic heresy. I do not agree with all of it (though I am in solid agreement on most of it), and look forward to talking with him in a few weeks in La Jolla when we are together. But the point of Outside the Box is not to find material that I or you agree with or that makes us comfortable, but something which causes us to think through our own opinions and biases.
But this is a debate that absolutely must happen if we are to move forward and away from the current crisis and to somehow see if we can avoid yet another crisis in five years. Simply adding new regulations without changing the incentive nature of the markets will not fix the things that really matter. None of us should cry when some fund that is leveraged 30 to 1 goes down and investors get wiped out. What were they thinking anyway? But when a fund or investment bank is so big that its demise threatens the system that we participate in, something is wrong in the way our society manages risk. Simply bailing out big banks is not an adequate regulatory response. While it may work for the immediate moment, it does not solve the longer term issues.
Please feel free to forward this letter to anyone you think should be part of that debate process.
What really happened last August? There was blood in the street for many hedge funds, while others did ok. But in this week's Outside the Box, Jon Sundt from Altegris Investments (and my US partner) dives you the behind the scenes details of what was going on inside the trading rooms of various quantitative hedge funds. It makes for interesting, if not sobering, reading.
I think you will find this analysis helpful in your own efforts to analyze your investment managers. How much real risk are your managers taking? Can you tell just by the performance numbers? Jon suggest different ways to look at the risk in your portfolio.
Jon is the president of Altegris Investments. He has been researching and analyzing hedge funds for many years, along with his partners and an extensive research team at Altegris. I am proud to partner with his firm, and happy to present you his essay ad this week's Outside the Box.
The credit markets are in turmoil. This week I have asked Michael Lewitt of Harch Capital in Florida to tell us what is going on from his perspective. Michael has been watching the credit markets from the inside for a long time. So, this week we have a sort of insider's Outside the Box.
Michael is one smart guy with a deep understanding of the markets, especially the credit markets, and how they work. I really look forward each month to getting Michael's insights. The firm manages domestic and offshore debt and equity hedge funds and separate accounts. This may get more technical for some readers, but keep reading, as you can get a sense of what we are really facing.
This Week in Outside the Box we Join Bill Gross of Pimco in his July 2007 Investment Outlook as he strives to address the implications of the Bear Stearns hedge fund debacle, the toxic waste that is Wall Streets' innovative derivative products and their respective valuation, rather, lack thereof.
If Dear reader you have not been party to the excess of the Wall Street you may have not heard of the two Bear Stearns hedge Funds focusing on the subprime market that were subsequently liquidated on account of their inability to meet margin calls, thus wiping out investors. Mr. Gross believes that while significant, we ought not to look to Wall Street to see the repercussions of our excess but to the heart lands of America and the real estate there financed via subprime loans to witness the true folly of our capitalist ways.
This week's Outside the Box will be one of the longer ones that have been featured, even despite the current length being approximately half of what it originally was. Now that's no cause for alarm, yet rather a measure of how important I feel this article to be. In his article "How to Make Big Money: 11 Time-Tested Strategies, "Gary Shilling writes about the methods people have used for wealth creation. We are talking about ways to actually make money.
This is one of the more interesting and thought-provoking pieces that I've come across as of late. Gary provides an excellent and comprehensive overview on many of the strategies that people have used to both create and grow their personal net worth. Some are common sense and some are insightful...but all of the points he makes are proven ways of which fortunes have been made. You can check out more of Gary's work on his website www.agaryshilling.com.
I trust that you will enjoy this exceptional piece.
My good friends and London associates, Absolute Return Partners, have recently released their monthly letter. The letter consists of two essays with the first by ARP President Niels Jensen and the second by partner Jan Vilhelmsen. Given that the equity sell-off around the world has been far more dramatic than in the US, I thought it might be useful to get a view from "over the pond."
Niels comments on the correlation between commodities and stocks and takes a look at what history can teach us from years past. In light of all of the talk, this is a contrarian's view opposed to the "it's different this time" camp (like we haven't heard that one before). On the other hand, Jan explores a sector of hedge funds that, by definition, do not live up to their name. He concisely summarizes this discovery by stating, "If you pay the high fees that hedge fund managers demand, you would at least expect to get something that you cannot easily create yourself."
With most observers ranting and raving about the "new economy," I trust that you will enjoy this article that bets against the consensus by siding with history and the data. Enjoy the read and continue to think "Outside the Box."