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

Tech stock carnage: do you think Apple, Amazon and Alphabet will save you? Think again
Tech stocks

Tech stock carnage: do you think Apple, Amazon and Alphabet will save you? Think again

As tech stocks continued to slide, there is a view that you can escape all the carnage by holding really high quality profitable stocks. That view is …
24 Jan 2022
Which assets will benefit as the “jam tomorrow” bubble pops?
Investment strategy

Which assets will benefit as the “jam tomorrow” bubble pops?

With tech stocks, cryptocurrencies and many other “long duration” investments crashing hard, the “jam tomorrow” bubble looks to be bursting. John Step…
24 Jan 2022
Three innovative Asian stocks to buy now
Share tips

Three innovative Asian stocks to buy now

Professional investor Fay Ren of the Cerno Pacific Fund highlights three of her favourite Asian stocks to buy now
24 Jan 2022
Shareholder capitalism: why we must return power to listed companies’ ultimate owners
Investment strategy

Shareholder capitalism: why we must return power to listed companies’ ultimate owners

Under our system of shareholder capitalism it's not fund managers, it‘s the individual investors – the company's ultimate owners – who should be telli…
24 Jan 2022

Most Popular

Ask for a pay rise – everyone else is
Inflation

Ask for a pay rise – everyone else is

As inflation bites and the labour market remains tight, many of the nation's employees are asking for a pay rise. Merryn Somerset Webb explains why yo…
17 Jan 2022
Temple Bar’s Ian Lance and Nick Purves: the essence of value investing
Investment strategy

Temple Bar’s Ian Lance and Nick Purves: the essence of value investing

Ian Lance and Nick Purves of the Temple Bar investment trust explain the essence of “value investing” – buying something for less than its intrinsic v…
14 Jan 2022
Interest rates might rise faster than expected – what does that mean for your money?
Global Economy

Interest rates might rise faster than expected – what does that mean for your money?

The idea that the US Federal Reserve could raise interest rates much earlier than anticipated has upset the markets. John Stepek explains why, and wha…
6 Jan 2022