Jim Chanos and the bears come out of hibernation

February 19, 2013

By Matthew Goldstein 

The year is young, but so far its been a rough one for bearish stock investors with the S&P 500 is up 7.25% The surge in equity prices has left  a lot of short sellers–traders who bet on a stock sliding in value–with glum looks on their faces. And it’s with that bullish backdrop that several dozen of Jim Chanos’ closest friends gather in Miami for the noted short seller’s annual meeting of the bears.

The gathering of 40 or so people from Wednesday through Friday is a chance for Chanos and other like minded investors to kick around their best short ideas. A year ago, there was a lot of talk about shorting companies in the natural gas space.

The annual event at a resort in West South Beach is one where the invited guests are sworn to secrecy. That’s why there’s almost never any press coverage of the event, and even less coverage of the short ideas presented by Chanos & Co.

In light of that “code of silence,” we can’t guarantee any foll0wups on what gets discussed or any better insight into what Chanos’ Kynikos Associates hedge fund is doing in the market–other than continuing to be short all things China. (We do know for a time last year Kynikos was short Herbalife and he was bearish on Hewlett Packard before it took a big write-down over the ill-fated Autonomy transaction).

But savvy traders might pay attention to see if any stocks posts a notable spike in short interest over the next few weeks–that could be an indication the stock got mentioned at the bear feast.

Or if anyone is really down on the U.S. economy or the Fed’s buying of mortgage backed securities and Treasuries, some might find some guidance from the fact Chanos is one of the famous money managers who serves on the New York Fed’s investment advisory committee. Other members include Moore Capital’s Louis Bacon, Pimco’s Mohamed El-Erian,  Appaloosa’s David Tepper and Brevan Howard’s Alan Howard.

Then again, as recently as late November, Chanos told Bloomberg TV that he was generally bullish on the U.S. So maybe the state of the U.S. economy won’t the soup de jour on the bear menu at this year’s meeting.



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