Whitney Tilson’s email to investors discussing Crypto webinar tonight; Thoughts on Freddie, Fannie; PG&E and Intelsat getting obliterated; Dealing with a**holes.
Eric is super knowledgeable, and I learned a lot about a fascinating sector. But at the end of our conversation, he hadn't changed my view that, as Warren Buffett said, bitcoin is "probably rat poison squared."
So Eric made me a friendly offer: He would be happy to take the other side of the bet if I wanted to short bitcoin.
I didn't even have to think before replying, "Thanks but no thanks."
This raises an interesting question: If I'm so sure that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are techno-libertarian pump-and-dump schemes, then why wouldn't I eagerly take Eric up on his offer?
The answer is rooted in hard experience over my 15 years as a short-seller:
- Never short open-ended situations in which other investors' wild enthusiasm for something exciting and new can wipe you out, and
- Never short anything in which there is no connection to any fundamental value metric (like future revenues, cash flows, or earnings).
Today, bitcoin trades for a little more than $8,000, with a 52-week range between $3,000 and nearly $14,000. Now that's volatile!
Since its price isn't based on any fundamental factor, it could certainly trade down to $1,000 or even $100... or up to $25,000, $100,000, or even, as Eric believes, $1 million someday.
In light of this, I will acknowledge that Eric did persuade me that cryptos are excellent instruments of speculation. They have a great story and are extremely volatile, so if I were forced to allocate a tiny percentage of my portfolio (which, to his credit, is all that Eric recommends), it would be in the crypto space.
If you want to learn more about this emerging area, I highly recommend that you watch the free webinar that Eric is hosting tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern. During it, he'll share his latest thoughts on the sector, reveal his latest crypto idea, and interview 12-term U.S. Congressman Ron Paul. You can save your spot for it right here. Again, it's totally free.
2) After 300% run-ups earlier this year, the stocks of the government-sponsored entities ("GSEs"), Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC), have taken it on the chin over the past two months.
I've just finished writing up a full analysis of the latest developments for this month's issue of the Empire Investment Report, but I still think their stocks are the most interesting mispriced options in the market. (You can sign up for my newsletter with a 30-day, no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee right here.)
Here's an insightful Heard on the Street column in today's Wall Street Journal... Fannie's and Freddie's Long Road to Public Offerings.
3) Here's my friend Michael Kao of Akanthos Capital Management with some breaking news on Freddie, Fannie:
Of the myriad lawsuits against the Treasury/FHFA by different classes of GSE investors, one very important hearing regarding the government's motion to dismiss in the Court of Federal Claims (COFC) was held yesterday.
While I don't have the full transcript yet, I've heard several key soundbites from the presiding Judge, Margaret Sweeney, that appear quite positive for plaintiffs (shareholders):
- She was concerned that the current terms of the Net Worth Sweep would never allow the GSEs to become solvent and exit conservatorship, and she questioned how the government could justify never allowing repayment of the liquidation preference so that the companies can get back on their feet
- The judge opined that Treasury/FHFA placed the GSE's in a "death grip" and used them as a "piggybank," comparing government's actions to "the mob"
- She opined that a "reasonable investor" would not have expected all profits to be swept to Treasury forever
While these soundbites appear way more constructive than I expected, I caution that the wheels of justice have moved very slowly in these GSE cases. Nevertheless, if the COFC strikes down the government's motion to dismiss, it will add to the political cover that Mnuchin/Calabria need to do the right thing for shareholders. Stay tuned...
Are hedge funds driving down Freddie Fannie shares?
4) One theory as to why the GSEs' stocks have been so weak is due to the high degree of cross-ownership with two other speculative stocks that are popular among hedge funds: California utility PG&E (PCG) and satellite company Intelsat (I), which have both gotten obliterated recently.
4) I recently encountered a guy who's a real a**hole, which got me thinking...
Most folks have to deal with such people in their lives – like a boss or relative (or even a spouse, if one really marries badly and/or is super unlucky!).
But I don't.
I've given it real thought and can't think of a single person of note in my life who I consider to be an a**hole.
I think there are a few reasons for this:
- I've had an astounding amount of luck in my life, for which I am grateful for every day.
- I treat people well. (Funny how if you're nice to people, they tend to reciprocate.)
- I've had enough success that I haven't had a boss in 20 years and am financially secure. I'm not crazy-rich like many of the folks around me in the investment industry and on Manhattan's Upper East Side of Manhattan – the wealthiest Census tract in the U.S. – but I do have "f**k you money," and
- I'm ruthless about cutting jerks out of my life. If someone shows you their true colors – and you don't absolutely have to deal with them – then don't! It takes almost no effort to block someone's phone number, e-mail address, and social media accounts. I don't do it often, but I just did so to someone yesterday, and it feels good to have removed that element of stress from my life.