Legendary investor Stanley Druckenmiller has said that the “best economist he knows is the guts of the stock market.” For Mr. Blonde, an industry professional who has served in both sell-side and buy-side roles focused on risk management and equity strategy, few statements ring truer. Our discussion explores the framework he has developed through various market cycles, one that evaluates a collection of metrics both across and within markets, ultimately aiming to gain an edge in the probability of future outcomes. In this context, we discuss his role on the buy-side at a large long/short fund where he was charged with helping the chief risk-taker to better understand the macro climate and how it might serve as either a headwind or tailwind for fundamental security selection. We review a few key events when the macro and micro diverged. Here, Mr. Blonde cites the very low vol period in equity markets during the first 7 months of 2015 that masked important signals at odds with this stability, specifically the ongoing sell-off in crude and a widening of credit spreads. In August of ‘15, this stability was quickly undone as the VIX ramped to 45 when China quasi floated its currency.
We finish our discussion with his assessment of present day risk and reward and the interplay between the Fed, rates, inflation and the relative performance of style factors. In his view, disinflationary forces could re-emerge on the other side and give rise to a new cycle in which benign Fed policy and low rates again support the growth stocks that worked well during the prior cycle. Before that, however, investors will need to contend with the potential that financial conditions need to tighten a good deal further. I hope you enjoy this episode of the Alpha Exchange, my conversation with Mr. Blonde.