Seth Klarman is a billionaire hedge fund manager who has only lost money during three of his 34 years in business.
He’s been praised by hedge fund critic Warren Buffett and nicknamed “The Oracle of Boston.” His letters to Baupost Group investors are among the most sought-after on Wall Street, which makes the fact that they’re individually water-marked to identify the intended recipient, should he or she consider passing it on, extra exasperating. Like many of his peers in the industry, he maintains an extremely low profile. But there’s nothing like a mad-man inhabiting the White House to get a person talking, which is why Klarman choose to wade into the topic that is Donald J. Trump in his most recent communiqué, knowing full well it would garner press across the Internet, starting with The New York Times. “Despite my preference to stay out of the media,” he wrote in the letter obtained by Andrew Ross Sorkin, “I’ve taken the view that each of us can be bystanders, or we can be upstanders. I choose upstander.”
Investors who’ve been swept up in the Trump rally, and its promise of “stimulative tax cuts,” have been “ignoring the risks from America-first protectionism and the erection of new trade barriers,“ wrote Klarman. Worse, he says, Trump cheerleaders on Wall Street are ignoring the real problems holding down wages while offering all the wrong solutions. “President Trump may be able to temporarily hold off the sweep of automation and globalization by cajoling companies to keep jobs at home, but bolstering inefficient and uncompetitive enterprises is likely to only temporarily stave off market forces. While they might be popular, the reason the U.S. long ago abandoned protectionist trade policies is because they not only don’t work, they actually leave society worse off.”
Even if Trump delivers on lowering tax rates, Klarman warns investors against relying on voodoo economics to fix the national debt. Slashing rates could “drive government deficits considerably higher,” he wrote. “Rising interest rates alone would balloon the federal deficit, because interest payments on the massive outstanding government debt would skyrocket from today’s artificially low levels.”
Then, of course, there’s the market risk inherent in placing the nation’s foreign policy in the hands of a capricious blowhard who recently lashed out at a U.S. ally because, according to his own staff, he was tired. (It’s important to make sure your presidents get their afternoon naps.) “The erratic tendencies and overconfidence in his own wisdom and judgment that Donald Trump has demonstrated to date are inconsistent with strong leadership and sound decision-making,” Klarman wrote in his note. “The big picture for investors is this: Trump is high volatility, and investors generally abhor volatility and shun uncertainty. Not only is Trump shockingly unpredictable, he’s apparently deliberately so; he says it’s part of his plan.”
To read the entire article click here: Vanity Fair
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