Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Michael Burry: Bernanke Can’t Use ‘Poison as the Cure’

Found via GuruFocus.

Michael Burry, the former hedge-fund manager who predicted the housing market’s plunge, said Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is trying to use “poison as the cure” by pumping more cash into the economy to spur growth.

Bernanke’s Fed pledged this week to use $600 billion in additional Treasury purchases to help lower a 9.6 percent unemployment rate, close to a 26-year high, and to avert deflation.

The attempt to bolster growth is reminiscent of Alan Greenspan’s actions to revive the economy after 2001, Burry said in a telephone interview from Cupertino, California. The former Fed chairman helped create an unsustainable boom in U.S. property prices with his policies, leading to the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression, he said.

Boosting the economy “was the point of inflating the housing bubble,” Burry said yesterday. “It was the intent that the house would become the ATM machine, and help us through those rough times, post-dot-com, -Enron, -WorldCom, -Iraq and - 9/11. That’s why I say they’re using the poison as the cure.”

Burry, who now manages his own money after shuttering his fund in 2008, said in a Sept. 6 interview with Bloomberg Television that he was investing in farmable land and gold, as well as small technology companies. He said yesterday he hasn’t changed his tactics as a result of recent events, including the Fed’s second round of so-called quantitative easing, dubbed QE2.

“I’ve expected Bernanke to act as he’s acting,” he said. “So with QE2, anything I was doing I expect will work even better.”

While it would damage the economy in the short-term, Burry said he would focus on curbing government spending to prevent harsher measures later.

“It was the problem with the housing bubble, when do you prick it? The earlier you pricked it, the better it would have been for all of us,” he said.