PERHAPS ONE OF THE greatest failings in the run-up to the financial meltdown was a lack of perspective -- an inability by many market participants to see the big picture. Not so with Kevin Duffy and Bill Laggner, principals of the Dallas-based hedge fund Bearing Asset Management. With the help of their proprietary credit-bubble index, developed in 2004, the managers sounded early warnings on housing and credit excesses, and capitalized handsomely on their forecasts by shorting Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, money-center banks and brokers, builders, mortgage insurers and the like.
Students of the Austrian school of economics, which espouses a free-market philosophy that ascribes business-cycle booms and busts to government meddling with interest rates, the pair is solidly in the contrarian camp, believing that the worst for the markets may be yet to come.
The two established Bearing in June 2002 after running their own money and, before that, a stint by Duffy at Lighthouse Capital Management and by Laggner at Fidelity. Bearing now has about $60 million under management, and they have returned on average an impressive 18.28% annually since setting up shop. They hold refreshingly against-the-grain views on what's ahead.
Voltron says: They are short Goldman Sachs, the S&P500 and US and Japanese bonds and long Gold, consumer staples, discount retailers and pharmaceuticals (GRX and WMT)