Julian Robertson stayed calm after Greeks lined up at ATMs to hoard cash, the longest bull market in China’s history tumbled to an end and Puerto Rico’s governor said the U.S. commonwealth couldn’t pay its debt. The billionaire even had reasons to smile.
Robertson, the 83-year-old Tiger Management founder, got to his office at the top of New York’s 101 Park Ave., a skyscraper marketed as the “height of perfection,” at about 7 a.m. Monday. He ran the world’s largest hedge fund before returning investors’ money and now manages his own.
“The happiest thing for me is Puerto Rico this morning,” said Robertson, who was born in Salisbury, North Carolina, and still speaks with a twang. “The statement about ‘we just can’t pay our debts’ sort of works well with one of the stocks I’m short, called Assured Guaranty.”
The company, one of the biggest bond insurers, dropped as much as 15 percent Monday after Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla called the island’s $72 billion of debt “unpayable.”
“Everybody that follows Puerto Rico knows what terrible trouble they’re in,” Robertson said. “It’s kind of an interesting thing.”
He also used that adjective to describe Greece, where Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s decision to hold a referendum on the terms attached to rescue aid boosted the risk of the country abandoning the euro. Greeks lined up at cash machines and gas stations after talks with creditors broke down. The euro has fallen 18 percent against the U.S. dollar in the past 12 months.
“I’ve had a good position on being short the euro for a long time,” Robertson said. “So that’s been nice.”
He wasn’t as fortunate Monday in China, where the Shanghai Composite Index dropped 3.3 percent to 4,053, taking declines from its June 12 peak to more than 20 percent.
“There are some great companies in China,” he said. “One that I’m very heavy in is a company called JD, which may be one of the world’s great retailers.”