But after a few years of laying low, Burry decided to once again become a hedge fund manager. He founded Scion Asset Management, LLC (he really likes the name “Scion”, apparently) in 2013, and continues to lead it to this day. And even though you would need a lot of money if you want Burry to professionally manage your finances, the good doctor is still doling out financial advice for free to anyone who will listen. And everyone should listen, because it seems like Burry seems to think another financial crisis could be looming.
When I spoke to some of the other real-life characters from The Big Short, I was surprised to hear that they thought that financial reform was pretty effective and that the system was much safer. Michael Lewis disagreed. In your opinion, did the crash result in any positive changes?
Unfortunately, not many that I can see. The biggest hope I had was that we would enter a new era of personal responsibility. Instead, we doubled down on blaming others, and this is long-term tragic. Too, the crisis, incredibly, made the biggest banks bigger. And it made the Federal Reserve, an unelected body, even more powerful and therefore more relevant. The major reform legislation, Dodd-Frank, was named after two guys bought and sold by special interests, and one of them should be shouldering a good amount of blame for the crisis. Banks were forced, by the government, to save some of the worst lenders in the housing bubble, then the government turned around and pilloried the banks for the crimes of the companies they were forced to acquire. The zero interest-rate policy broke the social contract for generations of hardworking Americans who saved for retirement, only to find their savings are not nearly enough. And the interest the Federal Reserve pays on the excess reserves of lending institutions broke the money multiplier and handcuffed lending to small and midsized enterprises, where the majority of job creation and upward mobility in wages occurs. Government policies and regulations in the postcrisis era have aided the hollowing-out of middle America far more than anything the private sector has done. These changes even expanded the wealth gap by making asset owners richer at the expense of renters. Maybe there are some positive changes in there, but it seems I fail to see beyond the absurdity.
How do you think all of this affected people’s perception of the System, in general?
The postcrisis perception, at least in the media, appears to be one of Americans being held down by Wall Street, by big companies in the private sector, and by the wealthy. Capitalism is on trial. I see it a little differently. If a lender offers me free money, I do not have to take it. And if I take it, I better understand all the terms, because there is no such thing as free money. That is just basic personal responsibility and common sense. The enablers for this crisis were varied, and it starts not with the bank but with decisions by individuals to borrow to finance a better life, and that is one very loaded decision. This crisis was such a bona fide 100-year flood that the entire world is still trying to dig out of the mud seven years later. Yet so few took responsibility for having any part in it, and the reason is simple: All these people found others to blame, and to that extent, an unhelpful narrative was created. Whether it’s the one percent or hedge funds or Wall Street, I do not think society is well served by failing to encourage every last American to look within. This crisis truly took a village, and most of the villagers themselves are not without some personal responsibility for the circumstances in which they found themselves. We should be teaching our kids to be better citizens through personal responsibility, not by the example of blame.
Another POV: http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2016-01-05/-big-short-hero-michael-burry-is-wrong-this-time
I’m sure I posted this before… Watching “The Big Short” today.
It’s no secret Americans are having trouble paying off their record $1.2 trillion in student loans. What’s less known is that the trend is turning a typically sleepy corner of the bond market into a potential hazard zone.
People who borrowed money for education before the financial crisis are taking longer than forecast to repay their debt, thanks in part to relief programs. That’s creating a risk for holders of securities created by bundling the loans — which are government guaranteed — because the bonds may not be retired by maturity.
As a result, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings are considering cutting their rankings on almost $40 billion of securities, possibly dropping top-rated debt to junk status. The potential downgrades threaten to unleash an unusual situation where fundamentally sound bonds with minuscule coupons that reflect their low default risk would need to find new buyers, potentially crushing their prices.