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The Contrarian Investor Podcast

The Contrarian Investor Podcast

Author: Nathaniel E. Baker

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The Contrarian Investor podcast gives voice to those who challenge a prevailing narrative in financial markets. Each episode features an interview with a hedge fund manager, investor, economist or other market participant. The goal is to educate all listeners with an interest in asset allocation and ultimately to provide actionable ideas to the institutional investor community.
37 Episodes
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Rachel Ziemba, a geo-economic and country risk expert, joins the podcast to discuss the continuing, and intensifying economic impact from the coronavirus. It's become clear that the crisis has caused a demand shock that will likely bring "rolling recessions" in its wake. The most likely scenario appears to be for a "W-shaped" recovery. In the meantime, there is still a lot that go wrong. Content Segments (Spotify users can click on time stamp to link to section directly) The demand shock, shift in demand, and rolling recessions (4:27) Unique characteristics of the coronavirus crisis (7:57) Oil and oil-producing countries may be at most risk. Sino-U.S. relations can be expected to suffer (16:35) Background on the guest (25:55) Discussion of historical parallels: some similarities, but there is no precedent (30:16) The unlikely prospect of a "V-shaped" recovery (36:26) How deep might the trough be? (39:55) Are there any safe harbors from this? (47:57) For more information on the guest: Website: ZiembaInsights.com Twitter: @REZiemba Not intended as investment advice.
Dr. Robert Bednarz joins the podcast to provide his professional opinion on the coronavirus: Just how serious of a health crisis is COVID-19? And how long might it persist until economies around the world can spring to life again? Dr. Bednarz records from his home in Dundee, Scotland, where he is currently under self-quarantine. Unlike typical guests on this podcast, he has no experience or knowledge of investing or the economy. To that effect, this episode contains no stock picks or tangible views on economics. However, the medical view he supplies is certainly valuable for all members of the investing community. Content (Spotify users can skip to the segment by clicking on the time stamp in question) What is happening in Italy can happen anywhere (2:43) The cases and fatalities in Scotland and how hospitals are dealing with the effects (5:47) Hope relies on the local communities and people should "just stay home" (8:04) The chances of a mutation of the virus exist, but it is unlikely to be more lethal than the current iteration (10:41) Warmer weather should help (13:39) The worst case scenario scaring medical professionals (15:31) What medicines are being used for treatments? Antivirals show some promise (19:30) Masks are useful only for those with symptoms. But buyer beware (23:23) For more information on the guest: Dr. Bednarz hosts a podcast, The Patient Will See You Now, available on all podcasting platforms, including iTunes and Spotify Twitter: @Robert_Bednarz Not intended as investment advice.
Marc Chandler, a political economist and currently managing partner at Bannockburn Global Forex, joins the podcast to provide his assessment of the coronavirus impact on the global economy. Content: (Spotify users can click on the timestamp to link to the segment) This crisis is different, not brought about by the economic cycle but by an exogenous shock (3:15) Assessing the fiscal and monetary response by policymakers (4:36) Will there be a "V-shaped" recovery? (6:55) Recovery in Q3, Q4, but growth will be limited (12:07) The crisis may accelerate the move to a cashless society (13:12) Background on the guest (17:43) What's something the market is missing? (27:39) The Age of Surplus (34:13) Greater accountability for the Federal Reserve (38:21) The crisis could result in expansion to enfranchisement. To 16-year olds? (43:21) For more information on the guest: Website: MarcToMarket.com Twitter: @MarcMakingSense Bannockburn Global Forex LLC website Not intended as investment advice.
Kirill Zadov, political analyst at Russian-language radio station RUSA Radio, joins the podcast in this special episode to discuss the recent sell-off in oil prices. Zadov has some unique insights into the Russian oil economy and the political economy of the Middle East. His prediction: Saudi Arabia and Russia will have to come together to agree to output cuts, and soon. How low will oil go in the interim? Here too Zadov has some views. Segments:(Spotify listeners can skip to sections by clicking on the time stamp) What's motivating Russia on their decision to not cut output? (4:02) Why Russia and Saudi Arabia need to cut output, and soon (7:07) What other countries in the region are affected by this? (9:19) How long will it take for Russia and Saudi Arabia to agree to cuts? (10:28) Background on the guest (11:35) How low will oil prices go? (13:26) For more information on the guest:  Soundcloud Twitter: @KirillZadov RUSA Radio Not intended as investment advice.  
Tobias Carlisle, founder of Acquirers Fund LLC, is well known in value investing circles. He defends this method while also pointing to the short opportunities that have emerged recently. Where the macro picture is concerned, the coronavirus is still front and center. Here Carlisle expects corporate earnings to be impacted and doesn't anticipate central banks being able to help much. (This podcast was recorded before the Federal Reserve's 50 basis point cut announcement on March 3). Highlights: The case for value investing (4:28) Coronavirus and the impact on supply chains (7:36) and how the market will react this year (8:47) The fund's short position in Tesla (12:58) Favorite contrarian ideas right now, including short Etsy (21:25) Exposure to energy (27:15) More information on the guest: AcquirersMultiple.com for podcasts and other materials; AcquirersFunds.com for information on the firm; AcquirersFund.com for information about the fund; Fund ticker: ZIG Twitter: @Greenbackd Not intended as investment advice.
Philip Reade, founder and managing partner at Helm Investment Partners, joins the podcast to discuss his approach to crisis investing on a global basis. Reade does not follow the "buy when everybody else panics" maxim. Instead, he searches first for a country that is emerging from a crisis and then buys that market's largest, most liquid public equities. Helm Investment Partners seeks to capture shifts in the "psychological cycle" where the perception of a market changes. Content: Reade's approach and how it's different from value investing (1:12) Identifying buying opportunities (5:35) Timing the purchases is just as important as identifying the opportunity (15:30) Some of the firms' investments in 2019 (19:09) When to sell positions (20:30) Reade's "origin story" of how he came to investing (23:51) Where are the opportunities now? (30:30) Greece (31:29), Turkey (32:09), Chile (33:36), Pakistan (35:04) China and the coronavirus (37:57) Potential future investment targets in Egypt, Mexico, Argentina (39:25) Why there is still upside in Greece (42:42) For more information about Philip Reade and Helm Investment Partners, visit HelmIP.com. Not intended as investment advice.
Gregory Obenshain, director of credit at Verdad Capital, joins the podcast to discuss his concerns about private credit investing. Obenshain and Verdad Capital founder Dan Rasmussen recently penned an article in Institutional Investor: "High-Yield Was Oxy. Private Credit Is Fentanyl." Subtitle: "Investors are hooked, and it won't end well." In this 29-minute conversation, Obenshain tells listeners about his thesis. Content: How private equity has become the dominant player in this market (4:02) The lending is a lot more dangerous and indeed riskier than the high-yield bond market (7:39) Obenshain's background (15:03) Historical returns for private credit investments (19:50) Ramifications of new lenders entering the market (22:22) Potential timing of an unwind (24:17) More constructive ideas for investors (25:27) For more information on the guest and his firm: VerdadCap.com Not intended as investment advice.
January 2020 has been an eventful month. Geopolitical events and other exogenous factors have roiled global financial markets. In the end, they may not matter all that much where the trajectory of the global economy is concerned. In fact, they may not matter at all. Nicholas Reece of Merk Research shares his thesis that there is a "subtle fallacy" that events in the news are important to the global economy and financial markets. This is due to evolutionary biography, behavioral biases, and the nature of the news business in the digital age. In a wide-ranging conversation, Reece tells listeners how to cut through the noise to identify data that has real economic repercussions. One conclusion is that in 2020 (at least so far) to be a contrarian means being optimistic. Content: The "subtle fallacy" of news (1:32) Humankind's innate negativity bias (2:43) So what news is relevant to the economy and to markets? (4:09) Discerning the signal from the noise for investors (5:50) Economic damage from the coronavirus (7:53) "Unknown unknowns" (9:32) Nick Reece's "origin story" as an investor (12:41) The changing public perception of the Federal Reserve (20:30) Being positive is contrarian (26:21) A short discourse on political commentary (27:25) Favorite economic indicators that can supply contrarian signals (30:19) For more information about Nick Reece and Merk Research, visit their website.
Economist and energy specialist Peter Sainsbury joins the podcast to discuss his thesis, that the fossil fuel industry faces a dilemma similar to what confounded big tobacco a generation ago. Oil companies in particular are starting to be seen as "sin stocks" with institutions divesting themselves on ethical grounds. Much like tobacco companies reinvented themselves in the 1990s, energy companies can undergo a similar renaissance. Indeed the process of oil companies divesting harmful assets is already underway. This causes opportunities for investors. But first, expect headwinds. Content: Peter Sainsbury introduces his thesis (1:59) The impact on energy companies' share prices (8:16) What about alternate energy? (10:27) Background on the guest (15:58) and other areas of interest, including gold and gold miners (18:15) Palladium may be frothy. One little-known indicator worth tracking (23:16) Potential catalysts for supply-side disruption in energy markets (27:08) For more information on Peter Sainsbury: Visit his website, Materials-Risk.com Follow him on Twitter Check out his books, Commodities, 50 Things You Really Need to Know and Crude Forecasts: Predictions, Pundits and Profits in the Commodity Casino Not intended as investment advice.
Chris Stanton, chief investment officer at Sunrise Capital, rejoins the podcast to discuss his bearish views on the market at the start of 2020. There are reasons to believe a market correction is overdue, Stanton says. Risk is everywhere: geopolitical, volatility, repo markets. A drop of 18% to 20% can be expected before March 31. Highlights: "Rest assured, we're heading for a correction and I would argue it's going to be terrifying when it comes" (5:43) The "Phase 1" deal with China is a temporary measure that will be revoked if Donald Trump wins reelection in November (9:55) A likely catalyst for a correction is in the repo market (11:36) A "volatility-led sell off" is likely before the end of the first quarter (16:12) Where's inflation? (26:34) It may not take an actual headline for investors to decide equities are overbought (31:01) Background on Stanton's firm, San Diego-based Sunrise Capital (38:03) The "origin story": Background on Stanton himself (53:03) What should retail investors do, right now? (1:02:49) Not intended as investment advice. For more information on Sunrise Capital: www.sunrisecapital.com
Lukasz Tomicki of LRT Capital Management joins the podcast to discuss his investing strategy and ideas for 2020. Contents: The case for Russian natural gas companies (3:05) and healthcare stocks (5:28). What's to like about UnitedHealth (9:24). Background on Tomicki (13:48). Handicapping the 2020 US presidential election (20:50). The outlook for growth in the US (23:01). Austin, Tex.-based LRT Capital is a long-biased, concentrated equity fund started by Tomicki in 2012. For more on LRT Capital, visit the firm's website.
Nicholas Shaxson, author of The Finance Curse, joins the podcast to discuss his thesis, that the financial sector is at the root of many problems facing economies and society, and where to look for possible solutions. Content The paradox: Too much finance can make you poorer (1:47) How did we get here? (3:11) Angola as the genesis of the finance curse concept (7:58) Rising inequality. Where might solutions lie? (14:11) Debunking private equity (18:34) Antitrust solutions may be the answer (27:06) What sectors are most at risk? (33:19) For More Information The Finance Curse book website, including ordering information (Or just go to the Amazon page directly) Nick's Twitter account Nick's Guardian articles Nicholas Shaxson Wikipedia page  
The collective mood and risk appetite of investors may be turning more cautious, but this makes for a more optimistic outlook for risk assets. The author of the Demonetized Blog (and corresponding Twitter account) joins the podcast to discuss this concept and what it means for the economy and markets going forward. Content: Investor surveys as contrarian indicators (2:40) and the "basic principle" that broader conservative positioning makes for bullishness (5:13) Nick's "origin story" as an investor (13:36) Timing is everything. How much longer does this bull market have to run? (17:45) Interest rates should stay low indefinitely (20:37) and the economy is not facing an imminent recession (22:00) Prospects of a new president in the U.S. (24:12) What this all means for asset allocation (26:05) and why investors should keep wary of inflation (28:25) Not intended as investment advice.
Andrew Redleaf is best known as the founder of Whitebox Advisors, a hedge fund that at its peak managed $6 billion. He joins the podcast to discuss his thesis that the world is increasingly bifurcated between those who have access to cheap capital and those who do not. Content: The contrarian take on low interest rates (2:33). Who has access to capital (5:16)? Small banks an outlier (7:28). The macro outlook (9:02). Andrew's "origin story" (12:10). Cultural elements of financial markets (19:11). Biggest concerns facing markets and best ideas (23:20). Not intended as investment advice.
Nancy Davis of Quadratic Capital joins the podcast to discuss the danger of interest rate volatility risk. The market is at "peak confidence of central banks being able to control markets" (2:27), as evidenced by the historic low in all gauges of interest rate volatility (5:36). The risks of stagflation (8:37) and a trade war with Europe (10:16) are similarly discounted.  Background on Nancy (14:39), further information on her fund (17:23), why gold is an ineffective inflation hedge (22:05).
Peter Borish is a founding partner at Tudor Investment Corp and current chief strategist at Quad Group. In his long career on Wall Street, Borish has seen multiple market cycles and met with and allocated to many hedge fund managers. He shares his wisdom with listeners. Content: The need for active management in today's market (6:23). A contrarian view on ego (8:35). State of the economic cycle and deflationary pressures (10:29), political realities (14:26), concepts to keep in mind for the long run (16:31). What to look for in an investment adviser and hedge fund manager (20:46). The current state of hedge fund talent (22:57). Areas for concern in the macro picture (26:45) and possible inflection points (29:18). Not intended as investment advice. More information on Peter Borish and Quad Group: www.quadgroup.com
Adam Johnson of Bullseye Brief joins the podcast to discuss his optimistic views on the US economy. He supplies ideas for stocks to take advantage of this situation, and talks about his background and how he came to start his investing service. Content: Labor markets, consumer spending speak to strong economic currents in the US (0:46). The bullish case for financial stocks (2:55) and United Rentals (6:04). Semiconductors should do well (9:49). Adam's background and how he came to start Bullseye Brief (14:23). Ideas in biotechs (19:07). More information about Bullseye Brief: www.bullseyebrief.com
Rupal J. Bhansali joins the podcast to discuss her just-published book "Non-Consensus Investing: Being Right When Everyone Else is Wrong." Ms. Bhansali is the chief investment officer, international and global equities, at Ariel Investments in New York. Over the course of the conversation she explains why she wrote the book, some of its most valuable lessons for stock analysts, and why investors should eschew FAANG stocks for a new acronym: MANG (Michelin, Ahold, NTT Docomo, Glaxosmithkline). Skip to segments: The need for developing non-consensus views (2:20), focusing on balance-sheet risk rather than earnings (3:50), "kicking the can down the road" is not an option (6:27), FAANG vs. MANG (7:27), a special message to young women (12:20) More information on the book: https://cup.columbia.edu/book/non-consensus-investing/9780231192309
Maj Soueidan, co-founder of GeoInvesting LLC, joins the podcast to discuss his approach to microcap investing and his process for sourcing ideas before concluding with one of his favorite stock picks at the time of the recording. Content: The case for microcaps (1:25), how to find ideas (5:14), sectors (9:04), monitoring and holding periods (10:08), catalysts and "problems" (12:30), an illustrative case study (15:10), Maj's background and how he came about microcap investing (18:43), more about GeoInvesting (24:19), current idea: Rand Worldwide Inc. (26:09), how to find more information (37:14).  
David Hunter, Chief Macro Strategist at Contrarian Macro Advisors, discusses the current state of the economic cycle and why risk assets have a final upleg left before the onset of the bear market.  Content: The Federal Reserve is behind the curve of the economy (2:00), the coming bust (5:00), predictions for bond prices (8:15), the final "melt up" and why it will be "parabolic" (12:29), echoes of 1982 (16:50), the 2020 bear market (19:34) and recovery, which will bring the first inflationary cycle since the 1970s (21:21), favorite places to be in terms of investments (26:45), $10 oil (30:00) Not intended as investment advice. Follow David on Twitter
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