Shorting major oil companies?
For different reasons, "we're short two different groups of the major oil companies," the big publicly traded majors like Exxon, and the nationalized companies like Petrobras of Brazil, Chanos said.
For Exxon and others, they've had "a great business that's really becoming a mediocre business" right now, he added. "Their problem is finding costs" in reserves like deep-water drilling and the Arctic. "These are all much, much, more expensive places to be doing business."
"[But] they're in a lot better shape than the national oil guys; Petrobras, Ecopetrol (Colombia), and PetroChina (China) and companies like this who are really not businesses," Chanos said. "They're pass through [political] vehicles for their citizens. That's our thesis there."
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In effect, he continued, "Western shareholders and bondholders are subsidizing the citizens of Brazil through Petrobras."
"They cannot charge full gasoline and diesel prices," Chanos said. "And meanwhile, they have to do business with Brazilian suppliers. They're getting it on both ends."
—By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere. Follow him on Twitter