The current economic slowdown has triggered comparisons to the great global financial crisis of 2008-2009. One of those voices comes from Michael Burry, the Big Short investor who aptly predicted the subprime mortgage crisis that unfolded a little more than a decade ago. That is why when Burry speaks, the markets tend to listen.
Unfortunately, his perception of the current economic slowdown could be even more dire than the former.
In a since-deleted tweet, Burry wrote, “Today I wondered aloud if this could be worse than 2008.”
However, Burry, in a series of mysterious subsequent tweets, suggested that he might spot market opportunities.
He revealed to his 1 million-plus followers that he was “feeling greedy,” reminding them that this is precisely how he was feeling in the year 2000, just before the dot-com bubble burst.
Perhaps he is channeling fellow billionaire Warren Buffett, who famously said to be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.
Meanwhile, the doom-and-gloom cat is already out of the bag, and several media publications captured Burry’s musings, which went on to say in warning to investors: “What interest rates are doing, exchange rates globally, central banks seem reactionary, and in CYA (cover your a**) mode.”
Central banks worldwide have been dipping into their monetary policy arsenal to combat unwieldy inflation, raising interest rates at an accelerated pace in 2022 with no signs of slowing down.
The one-two punch of high inflation and rising interest rates has been exacerbated by geopolitical tensions stemming from Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine and pandemic-fueled restrictions in China. As a result, the U.S. dollar has soared to all-time highs vs. other currencies, including the British pound.
These economic headwinds remind Burry of the conditions that paved the way for the Great Recession. In that period, Burry made $800 million by placing short bets on mortgage-related credit default swaps. His market calls were captured in the best-selling book by Michael Lewis and later in a film dubbed The Big Short.
Scion Capital's Michael Burry, who made $800 million shorting mortgage credit default swaps in 2007-'08. pic.twitter.com/1O25j6Qaww
— Tuur Demeester (@TuurDemeester) June 5, 2016
Burry is famous for his bearish bets on some high-profile names in the technology industry, not least of which includes Elon Musk’s Tesla stock. Burry’s investment firm, Scion Asset Management, took short positions via options against the electric vehicle maker’s stock last year.
Meanwhile, the firm piled up on videogame maker GameStop, prompting the short-squeeze in those shares and kicking off the meme-stock craze of 2021. This was not the only time Burry found himself at odds with Elon Musk.
The Tesla chief recently expressed his concern that the Fed’s path of higher interest rates would lead to a deflationary economy, where consumer prices fall and purchasing power rises. Burry, on the other hand, is more worried about inflation.
He suggested that the increasing velocity of money making its way through the economy is outpacing a declining money supply, which in turn is fueling higher inflation, the likes of which rivals the U.S. economy in the 1970s.