Billionaire investor Paul Tudor Jones has a message for Janet Yellen and investors: Be very afraid.
Echoing a number of recent high profile managers’ warnings…
Guggenheim Partner’s Scott Minerd said he expected a “significant correction” this summer or early fall, citing as potential triggers President Donald Trump’s struggle to enact policies, including a tax overhaul, as well as geopolitical risks.
Philip Yang, a macro manager who has run Willowbridge Associates since 1988, sees a stock plunge of between 20 and 40 percent, according to people familiar with his thinking, citing events like a severe slowdown in China or a greater-than-expected rise in inflation that could lead to bigger rate hikes.
Seth Klarman, who runs the $30 billion Baupost Group, told investors in a letter last week that corporate insiders have been heavy sellers of their company shares. To him, that’s “a sign that those who know their companies the best believe valuations have become full or excessive.”
Larry Fink, whose BlackRock Inc. oversees $5.4 trillion mostly betting on rising markets, acknowledged this week that stocks could fall between 5 and 10 percent if corporate earnings disappoint.
Another multi-billion-dollar hedge fund manager, who asked not to be named, said that rising interest rates in the U.S. mean fewer companies will be able to borrow money to pay dividends and buy back shares. About 30 percent of the jump in the S&P 500 between the third quarter of 2009 and the end of last year was fueled by buybacks, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The manager says he has been shorting the market, expecting as much as a 10 percent correction in U.S. equities this year.
Even billionaire Leon Cooperman — long a stock bull — wrote to investors in his Omega Advisors that he thinks U.S. shares might stand still until August or September, in part because of flagging confidence in the so-called Trump reflation trade.
Their views aren’t widespread. They’ve seen the carnage suffered by a few money managers who have been waving caution flags for awhile now, as the eight-year equity rally marched on.
But the nervousness feels a bit more urgent now, as Bloomberg reports, legendary macro trader Paul Tudor Jones, who runs the $10 billion Tudor Investment hedge fund, says that years of low interest rates have bloated stock valuations to a level not seen since 2000, right before the Nasdaq tumbled 75 percent over two-plus years.
That measure – the value of the S&P relative to the size of the economy – should be “terrifying” to a central banker, Jones said earlier this month at a closed-door Goldman Sachs Asset Management conference, according to people who heard him.
In fact Total US Market Capitalization-to-GDP is struggling to bust above its 2007 highs…
While the billionaire didn’t say when a market turn might come, or what the magnitude of the fall might be, he did pinpoint a likely culprit.
Just as portfolio insurance caused the 1987 rout, he says, the new danger zone is the half-trillion dollars in risk parity funds. These funds aim to systematically spread risk equally across different asset classes by putting more money in lower volatility securities and less in those whose prices move more dramatically. Because risk-parity funds have been scooping up equities of late as volatility hit historic lows, some market participants, Jones included, believe they’ll be forced to dump them quickly in a stock tumble, exacerbating any decline.
“Risk parity,” Jones told the Goldman audience, “will be the hammer on the downside.”
Indeed, with all that low-vol leveraged, it wouldn’t be the first time.