Barton Biggs, the hedge fund manager who bought stocks when the market bottomed in 2009, cut bullish bets on equities, amid concern that the odds of a U.S. recession have increased.
The Traxis Global Equity Macro Fund's net long position has been cut to less than 40 percent, and may be reduced another 15 percentage points, Biggs said during an interview on Bloomberg Television “In the Loop” with Betty Liu today. Biggs said on Oct. 31 that the fund's bullish position was 80 percent following the biggest monthly rally in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index since 1991. It fell 1.4 percent to 1,198.42, the lowest intraday level since Oct. 20, as of 9:35 a.m. New York time.
Biggs said the chance of a recession during the first half of 2012 has risen to between 60 percent and 70 percent. The benchmark equity index slumped the most in two months last week on concern Europe's debt crisis will trigger a recession.
“I'm very disappointed,” Biggs said of the U.S. deficit- cutting congressional supercommittee's failure to agree on $1.2 trillion in federal budget savings. “It's pathetic that they haven't come to a deal. It shows our political system is really dysfunctional. I've been wrong in being too optimistic about the outcome in the U.S.”
He predicted stocks will decline at least to the level of July 2010, when the S&P 500 fell to 1,022.58. The measure may even test the lows from during the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, he said. The gauge dropped to 676.53 in March 2009, its lowest point in more than 12 years.
Biggs boosted bullish bets on equities in his Traxis Global Equity Macro Fund on Oct. 31 after European leaders took action to contain the debt crisis, saying investors were too pessimistic and the rally would continue as they changed their minds. The fund had been 65 percent net long on Oct. 17 and 40 percent about a month before that. It was near 85 percent six months prior.