Seth Klarman: despite all the stimulus, risk has not gone away

Despite the distortion of the markets by governments’ and central banks’ loose monetary policies, there is still plenty of risk for investors, says Seth Klarman, founder of the Baupost hedge fund.

Action by governments and central bankers has convinced investors that risk “has simply vanished”, says value investor Seth Klarman, founder of the Baupost hedge fund, in his latest letter to investors, quoted in the Financial Times.

Klarman has long been a critic of the Federal Reserve’s loose monetary policies, which he believes have badly undermined “the market’s usual role in price discovery... With so much stimulus being deployed, trying to figure out if the economy is in recession is like trying to assess if you had a fever after you just took a large dose of aspirin”.

Klarman points to electric-car maker Tesla as one of the most egregious examples. The group’s share price has risen “seemingly beyond all reason”. He blames low interest rates, which drive up the value of the estimated future cash flows used by analysts to calculate the present value (see box) of a company. “The more distant the eventual pay-off, the more the present value rises. When it comes to the value of cash flows, the vast and limitless future, yet to unfold, has gained considerable ground on the more firmly anchored present.” 

That said, while Klarman may feel that the investment environment is hostile, his fund has still been putting money to work. In the third quarter of 2020, Baupost invested $400m in a “special purpose acquisition vehicle” (a cash shell, effectively) launched by fellow hedge-fund manager Bill Ackman, with the goal of investing in “mature unicorns” – private companies valued at between $10bn and $15bn.

Recommended

State pension errors – why tens of thousands of mothers could be missing out on millions in state pension payments
State pensions

State pension errors – why tens of thousands of mothers could be missing out on millions in state pension payments

LCP launches Mothers Missing Millions campaign amid DWP state pension errors.
3 Dec 2022
The top funds to invest in now
Funds

The top funds to invest in now

As market volatility continues, here are the top funds, stocks and investment trusts investors are putting their money into, according to one investme…
2 Dec 2022
The best places to live in the UK – and how much they will cost you
House prices

The best places to live in the UK – and how much they will cost you

Thinking of moving? Here are the best places to live in the UK and how much they will cost if you are buying.
2 Dec 2022
The pros and cons of smart meters – should you switch?
Personal finance

The pros and cons of smart meters – should you switch?

A smart meter can help you keep tabs on your energy usage, but is it better than a regular meter? We take a look at smart meters vs regular meters.
2 Dec 2022

Most Popular

Is it cheaper to leave the heating on low all day?
Personal finance

Is it cheaper to leave the heating on low all day?

The weather is getting colder and energy bills are rising, but is it really cheaper to leave the heating on low all day or should you only turn it on …
1 Dec 2022
Fan heater vs oil heater – which is cheaper?
Personal finance

Fan heater vs oil heater – which is cheaper?

Sales of portable heaters have soared, as households look to cut their energy costs. But which is better: a fan heater or an oil heater? We put them t…
21 Nov 2022
UK house prices fall at their fastest pace since 2020
House prices

UK house prices fall at their fastest pace since 2020

UK house prices fell 1.4% in November, their biggest fall since June 2020.
1 Dec 2022