Markets

Steve Eisman says Hong Kong protests are his biggest worry with economy, a possible 'black swan'

Key Points
  • Steve Eisman, the investor of "Big Short" fame, says his biggest worry is the Hong Kong protests, which he says could endanger any kind of trade deal with China and hurt the global economy.
  • "I think the potential black swan, if there is a black swan right now, is what's happening in Hong Kong right now," said Eisman on CNBC's Power Lunch. "If things escalate even further in Hong Kong, that would have a real impact back on the global economy."
  • Hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to Hong Kong's streets since early June, due to opposition to a now-suspended extradition law that would have allowed people in the city to be extradited to Mainland China.
VIDEO6:4906:49
Steve 'The Big Short' Eisman: Rising risks and his bet against Zillow

Steve Eisman, the investor of "Big Short" fame, is not worried about the American financial system saying it is sound and that there is little risk of a systemic crisis like the one he effectively bet against more than a decade ago.

His biggest worry however is the Hong Kong protests, which he says could endanger any kind of trade deal with China and hurt the global economy.

"I think the potential black swan, if there is a black swan right now, is what's happening in Hong Kong right now," said Eisman on CNBC's Power Lunch. "If things escalate even further in Hong Kong, that would have a real impact back on the global economy."

Hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to Hong Kong's streets since early June, due to opposition to a now-suspended extradition law that would have allowed people in the city to be extradited to Mainland China. These protests demonstrate the large discontent the people have for the city's government. The proposal, which is suspended but not fully withdrawn, mark the people of Hong Kong's call for full democracy.

For more on the critical issues in today's global economy facing investors, and the leaders at the helm of it, join us at Delivering Alpha on September 19 in New York City.

Black Swan events are difficult to predict and particularly damaging because of that. The financial crisis is considered one of those events.

The managing director and senior portfolio manager at Neuberger Berman said the protests in Hong Kong "seem to be escalating."

"The people who are protesting are not backing down, the Chinese government doesn't seem to be backing down, so if cooler heads don't prevail it's possible things in Hong Kong could get very ugly."

Eisman said conflict in Hong Kong could impact the trade war between the U.S. and China and could ripple through the global markets.

"That is not going to be a positive in terms of negotiating a trade deal between the United States and China, its not going to be a positive at all for the global markets," said Eisman.

The U.S. and China have been tied up in trade negotiations for over a year. Since the Chinese trade officials reneged on a nearly finished trade deal in May, the U.S. and China have engaged in a tariff fight and more recently a currency war, causing the markets to have their worst day of the year on Monday, weighing on investor and business sentiment.

"That's actually what I'm worried about the most right now, because every weekend we've got this drama where the people of Hong Kong are having protests in the millions and its starting to get very violent," said Eisman.

Eisman an investor known for predicting the financial crisis as depicted in "The Big Short" book and movie. He is currently betting again shares of Zillow.