It is interesting to review Michael Burry’s letter to his investors written in November 2006. ‘A Primer on Scion Capital’s Subprime Mortgage Short’ is Dr. Burry’s attempt to explain his decision to take a bearish position in credit default swap contracts. Based on accounts in The Big Short, which we reviewed last week, Dr. Burry’s investors were highly skeptical of his short position and many were threatening to withdraw funds. Read this article for more information.
Most value investors tend to avoid the use of leverage in their portfolios due to the old saying: “The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.” An investor can be entirely correct about his or her investment choices but the market may fail to recognize this before ruinous margin calls result in forced asset sales at depressed values. While there are many successful hedge fund managers who skillfully employ leverage and engage in short selling, most individual investors should stay far away from such strategies.
In light of this general conservatism on the part of value investors, an article suggesting the use of mortgage debt to improve investment results may seem a bit odd. In most circumstances, my view is that investors should not only avoid leverage through margin accounts but should also attempt to be free of all forms of personal debt. Excessive debt obviously played a large part in the real estate meltdown and has ruined the finances of many families. Nevertheless, opportunities now exist for intelligent use of mortgage debt for certain individuals. Read this article for more information.