“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.”
Whether it’s Greece, Goldman, or British Petroleum this morning, it’s all one and the same thing. I agree with Mr. Buffett - reputational risk remains something you cannot control in a Crackberry Minute.
Despite one of the largest proposed government bailouts in world history, stocks from Athens to Hong Kong continued to sell off early this morning. Contrary to popular political beliefs, the people of this world apparently aren’t as stupid as the politicians would like to think. Thankfully, You Tube and Google are democratizing and expediting the discovery process. In the end, this will make our world a better place.
In between now and then, a lot is going to happen. While it may not be clear yet how this will end for GS and BP, for Greece it will end in default. There is no calculation that reveals a reasonable probability that after saddling themselves with another 110 Billion Euros of debt, the Greeks can grow GDP at the same time as they promise to cut the deficit. It’s not hard to figure this out and, as usual, Mr. Macro Market already has. It’s just math.
Understanding that most politicians don’t do math is important. Just see these Crackberry Debt Addicts for who they are as they chase one another for short term resolve to long term issues. Instead of Paulson, this time it’s Papandreou. The names have changed but this blue magic is exactly what Hank Paulson and his banking cronies tried to sell you in May of 2008. Borrowing short to fund long term liabilities eventually ends in tears (or in Paulson’s case, puking in the West Wing).
Puking isn’t cool, but it happens. That’s what you saw Friday with the conflicted and compromised sponsors of Goldman’s stock. Sadly, after writing my senior thesis on the credibility of his investment process here in New Haven many moons ago, I need to You Tube Mr. Buffett on that analytical score this morning.
Now before you read this Buffett statement about Goldman, please take a third of a Crackberry Minute and re-read the aforementioned Buffett quote on reputation.
“If you think about that, you’ll do things differently”…
Now here is the You Tube of Buffett from Berkshire’s annual meeting over the weekend: “There is no question that the press of the past few weeks hurt the company… the allegation of something didn’t fall in the category of losing reputation.”
Understanding that Buffett has $68B in derivatives exposure (yes, some of it is opaque) and a $5B preferred stake in Goldman that pays him as long as GS has capital, what did all of these reporters expect the man to say about Goldman? Before you take his or anyone’s advice on anything investment related in this world, please ask them how they get paid.
According to Buffett himself, “every day that Goldman doesn’t call our preferred is money in the bank… that’s $15 a tick. Tick, tick, tick. I don’t want those ticks to go away.” Cherry cokes, some DQ, and counting your government sponsored preferreds by Crackberry Minutes? Lovely…
For Americans to watch one of our most trusted investors tell us to trust him on this is just plain sad. I never thought I’d say this, but I have to this morning. Shame on you Mr. Buffett. Shame on you. We are looking for the Good Guys in this marketplace to lock arms with us, be accountable, and lead; not push their own book.
I had more replies to my Friday morning Good Guys note than I have in 2.5 years of writing my morning missives. For any reply, my Hedgeyes and I are always grateful. Each and every one of them provides us an opportunity to learn and evolve. Friday’s replies weren’t about tactical decision making however. They were unanimously from the heart. People want legitimate leadership they can trust, not lip service to the word capitalism.
And with that, a devastating oil slick, and the mother of all Keynesian European bailouts we shall carry on this morning. Feet on the floor, understanding that we can build a firm like this for the next 20 years and I will always be Crackberry Minutes away from letting the power of money ruin our reputation.
After shorting it on 4/29/10 at 10:19AM ($120.28 SPY), we remain short the SP500 in the Hedgeye Virtual Portfolio. At 10:26AM on Friday we re-shorted the Euro on strength. My immediate term support and resistance levels for the SP500 and Euro are 1179-1191 and 1.31-1.34, respectively.
Real-time, all the time. Transparency with no banking or brokerage fee slapped on it is our small contribution to being the change we want to see in this profession.
Our Sector Head for Financials, Josh Steiner, and I will be holding a conference call in our lunchroom today titled, “Underappreciated Legislative Risk for Financials.” Please email if are interested in participating in an open Q&A.
Best of luck out there today,