'The shut down is not good for anyone': Famed 'Big Short' investor Michael Burry unloads on coronavirus lockdowns, says the response has been worse than the disease itself
Getty Images/ Astrid Stawiarz
- Michael Burry, whose bets against the housing market were documented in bestselling novel and film "The Big Short," sees government lockdowns as more detrimental to Americans than the coronavirus itself.
- The famous investor created a Twitter account on March 23 and has since used it to criticize the policies, trumpet the controversial treatment hydroxychloroquine, and decry the massive spike in unemployment brought about by widespread business closures.
- Burry told Bloomberg the quarantines are "man-made" and disproportionately target women, children, underprivileged groups, and people with drug addictions.
- As harsh as the economic fallout may be, Burry expects the "demand shock will be resolved by 2021" due to vast government stimulus and easy lending.
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Michael Burry views policies used to curb the coronavirus's spread as more economically dangerous than the pandemic itself.
The famous investor, who also holds an M.D. from Vanderbilt University, created a Twitter account on March 23 and has since used the platform to rail against government lockdowns. The policies have already prompted millions of job losses and calls for near-term recession from top economists as economic activity halts.
Burry asserted, through a series of tweets, that the economic toll of strict shutdowns harms more Americans than the pandemic would without shutdown measures.
"If COVID-19 testing were universal, the fatality rate would be less than 0.2%," Burry wrote in his first tweet on March 23. "There is no justification for sweeping government policies, lacking any and all nuance, that destroy the lives, jobs, and businesses of the other 99.8%."
"The shut down is not good for anyone," Burry wrote on April 4.
Burry rose to fame after betting against the housing bubble before the 2008 financial crisis. His investment was detailed in Michael Lewis' bestselling book "The Big Short" and a 2015 film adaptation of the same name.
The investor has also trumpeted a controversial treatment for the disease through his online presence. While multiple medical authorities have warned against using the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, Burry on Monday called for the US pharmaceutical industry to "step up here" and make the drug widely available.
Bloomberg first reported on Burry's stance and received additional emailed comments from the investor. He told Bloomberg the widespread quarantine is "man-made" and decried how it "suddenly reverses the gains of underprivileged groups, kills and creates drug addicts, beats and terrorizes women and children in violent now-jobless households, and more."
As harsh as the policy may be, the "demand shock will be resolved by 2021," Burry told Bloomberg. Economic relief through fiscal stimulus and low-interest rates will make easy money "the new rule," and stock and bond markets will soar back to past highs when the economy is rebooted, he added.
Burry is generally quiet about his investment strategies, but he told Bloomberg in mid-March that he placed a bet of a "good size" against indexes as the outbreak began to spread rapidly outside China. The position was "working out for now," he said at the time. Risk assets plummeted through March 23 as virus fears strangled investors and drove outsized selling.
Equities have since rebounded as death tolls slow and traders buy up stocks at low prices. The S&P 500 brushed up against its bullish threshold after jumping as much as 3.4% on Tuesday.
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