In memory of Barton Biggs

In memory of Barton Biggs

A legend has passed.

Money manager Barton Biggs, recently of Traxis Partners, and formerly of Morgan Stanley, passed away on July 14 at age 79.

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Biggs co-founded one of the first hedge funds known as Fairfield Partners in 1965. He started with Morgan Stanley about eight years later. He established the bank’s research department and founded Morgan Stanley Investment Management in 1975 and functioned as the asset management unit’s chairman until 2003. He served as a director on Morgan Stanley’s board between 1991 and 1996. Biggs spent over 30 years at Morgan Stanley, and his focus on frontier and emerging markets earned him the soubriquet of being a global investment strategist.

Biggs earned fame as he correctly predicted the massive bull run in U.S. equities that commenced in 1982 and topped that off by calling that the tech boom of the 1990s would burst soon.  He also was on the dot with respect to the Japanese equity market and rightly called its imminent collapse. In 1994, he summarized the findings of his 8-day trip to China by declaring himself “tuned in, overfed and maximum bullish.”  Read of his late 2011 interview with Bloomberg TV here on ValueWalk.

Though he retired in 2003 from Morgan Stanley at the ripe age of 70, he continued his career in money management by founding Traxis Partners. Here he correctly predicted the March 2009 bottom in U.S. equities and his fund earned very high returns thereafter.

Morgan Stanley Chairman and Chief Executive James Gorman sent a memo to all staff informing them of Biggs’ demise.

“Barton left an indelible mark on our business, our culture and our shared notion of leadership at Morgan Stanley,” Mr. Gorman said in the memo. “He was known as an independent thinker, colorful writer and one of the pioneers of emerging markets investing, and our firm benefited from his vision.”

Biggs was a graduate from Yale University and the New York University Graduate School of Business and served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.

He is survived by his son, two daughters and nine grandchildren.