Gearing up to short stocks again
The Federal Reserve's easy-money policy will eventually lose its efficacy, creating a nurturing climate for market bears, hedge-fund manager Bill Fleckenstein said Friday.
"At this juncture, I'm just moving forward so I could restart my fund early next year," he said. "Having said that, if I had started it yesterday, I wouldn't be short a share of anything because the reason I closed my fund was because I knew the Fed would print lots of money. I never dreamed it would go on this long or get this ridiculous or stocks would get back to here, but they have."
Fleckenstein, who announced in December 2008 that he was closing his short-selling fund, announced that he was gearing up to reopen it.
On CNBC's "Fast Money," Fleckenstein based his bearish view of the market on Fed policy, noting that when he closed his short fund, "I said to my friends that I wasn't going to get short stocks again until someone took the printing press away from the Fed."
"My view is that the back-up in the bond market had not much to do with tapering and a lot to do with the bond market beginning to price in a different outcome," he said. "Said differently, I believe that the Fed is starting to lose the bond market."
Fleckenstein said that if that thesis begins to materialize next year, it'll once again be profitable to short stocks, "something that's been next to impossible to do over the last four years."
Reopening the short fund would function "to take advantage of the fact that one of these days, the Fed will not be able to continue on its mission, which is to be able to print as much money as it deems necessary," he said.
"Those policies created both bubbles and the misshapen, warped economy we have today," Fleckenstein added. "The Fed is not the solution. It's the problem."
If 10-year U.S. Treasury bills traded back to a 3 percent yield, that would be "a clear signal that the bond market was sinking," he said.
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While there was no particular event on the horizon or any specific deadline for the Fed "losing the bond market," Fleckenstein said that he was preparing for an outcome he knows lies ahead.
"I don't know when the bond market is going to say, 'We've had enough.' OK? And when that happens, I believe that there's been so much money, so much money has been invested in stocks and bonds that are mispriced," he said. "The Fed has forced the bond market to be mispriced.
"Nobody with an ounce of brains would accept a 3 percent coupon in the world we live in today. But people don't have a choice because the Fed has been pinning rates on the short end."
Once the bond market begins a decline that the Fed can't control, a shift would occur, Fleckenstein said. "Then at some point you're going to get chaos in the financial markets again."
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Next time won't be like the financial crisis of 2008, he explained, "because it won't be the financials necessarily imploding on itself, but if bond rates around the world cannot be controlled by their central banks anymore, that will be a big problem."
Fleckenstein also said that he viewed gold favorably.
"Gold was a great investment for about 10 years in a row, and for the last couple of years it hasn't been," he said. "Now, the problem with gold is it's insanely volatile, it has a personality no one can understand, but over time it can't be printed, and it will protect you against money-printing."
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Granted, gold wouldn't provide protection every week or every year, Fleckenstein conceded.
"I think gold is a good long-run proposition to protect yourself," he said. "Does that it's going up next week? I have no idea."