You could almost hear the collective mocking across Wall Street yesterday when the news broke that analyst Meredith Whitney is starting a long/short equity hedge fund.
Twitter’s reaction to Business Insider’s own story was indication enough — “Wrong/Short Strategy,” picked up steam for a while. The Internet giggled.
But why? Sure Whitney’s been wrong, but a lot of people have been wrong. In fact some of the biggest, baddest hedge fund managers on the Street have had hedge funds blow up on them before (Bill Ackman’s Gotham Partners, for one).
And at the very least we know Meredith Whitney is no dummy — so why not give her a chance to put up some numbers and see what she’s made of before laughing at the idea that she’s going to be a hedge fund manager?
To review: Meredith Whitney got famous as an analyst back in 2007, when she called that Citi was under capitalised. All Wall Street followed suit and the bank lost $US50 billion in value in less than a month.
Since then her calls haven’t necessarily panned out, her biggest fail being the argument that municipal governments would go bankrupt. She even wrote a book about it.
So when reports surfaced this summer that Whitney’s advisory firm was rapidly losing clients and employees, and hadn’t made a profit in years there was even more schadenfreude. Word on the Street was that she was spending a lot of time in Bermuda (where her new hedge fund is incorporated, by the way).
Which brings us back to yesterday’s reaction to the news that she had dumped her brokerage business — a business everyone on Wall Street says is broken anyway — and is launching a fund called Kenbelle Capital.
The reaction was collective, and it was fierce.
It was almost as if we’d forgotten that there are more hedge funds than Taco Bells in this country.
It was almost as if Whitney was three college kids from North Carolina that were starting “The World’s Most Oblivious Hedge Fund.”
It was almost as if she was starting a Bitcoin ETF.
But she’s not. Whitney has had a massive call that went right, and she’s gotten some things wrong. So have guys like John Paulson, though. Last year his funds were getting killed, but his numbers for this year have been spectacular.
Now, to be clear, this is not a ‘Meredith Whitney will be a great hedge fund manager’ argument.
Quite the contrary, I have no idea how she’ll do.
But at this point, no one else does either.