Life and career
James Chanos was born in 1957. He was born into a Greek family living in Milwaukee. he graduated from Wylie E. Groves High School, and then Yale in 1980. He describes his investment strategy as being based on "intensive research into stocks" looking for fundamental and large market failures in valuation, typically based on underestimated or previously unreported failings in the business or market of a stock. He follows this research by committing to a (usually large) short-position which he is willing to hold for long period of time—almost the mirror image of Warren Buffett's reputed "fundamentals+long stay" investment strategy. Because of this model, his investments function more like those of a whistle-blower than most typical investments. Examples of this include short-selling companies such as Baldwin-United, and more recently Enron Corporation.
He rose to fame in the 1980s as a short seller. After working as an analyst in several firms, he founded Kynikos (Greek for "cynic") in 1985 as a firm specializing in short selling. A critical position taken at Kynikos was his shorting of Enron.
In October 2000, Chanos started research into the valuation of Enron Corporation. He examined their use of mark-to-model (opposed to mark-to-market) accounting, which, in Chanos' view, results in management overstating earnings, as well as what appeared to be a worryingly low (6-7%) return on capital investment. Enron stock declined from $90 in August 2000 to a low of $1 near the end of 2001. Over this period, Chanos was a short seller of Enron during 2001, increasing his short position as more information surfaced. Kynikos profited greatly and Chanos himself became something of a celebrity as a consequence of his early awareness of Enron's problems.
In 2010, James Chanos warned that China’s hyperstimulated economy was headed for a crash, not a sustained boom. He questioned the stability of Chinese economy, stating that historically analogous evidence points especially to a property bubble, mentioning commercial real estate in particular.
- Analyst with Blyth Eastman Webber.
- Analyst with Gilford Securities - where he exposed Baldwin-United, which filed for bankruptcy thereafter.
- Analyst and Vice President at Deutsche Bank Capital Corp.
- Founder and President of Kynikos Associates Ltd (current).
- FT Interview
- Leder, Michelle (2003). Financial fine print: uncovering a company's true value. John Wiley and Sons. p. 35. ISBN 0-471-43347-0. ISBN 9780471433477.
- Sherman, Gabriel (December 15, 2008). "The Catastrophe Capitalist". New York Magazine. Retrieved September 24, 2011.
- James Chanos (2002). Anyone could have seen Enron coming: Prepared witness testimony given Feb. 6, 2002 to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. .
- "Encarta (2009). The Fall of Enron Stock". Archived from the original on 2009-10-31.
- Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind.
- Barboza, David (January 8, 2010). "Contrarian Investor Sees Economic Crash in China". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2010.
- "James Chanos interviewed by Charlie Rose".
- Mahar, Maggie (2004). Bull!: A History of the Boom and Bust, 1982-2004. HarperCollins. p. 56. Retrieved September 24, 2011.
- Gammeltoft, Nikolaj; Kisling, Whitney (May 24, 2011). "Chanos Misses Out as Chinese Stocks in U.S. Plunge on Accounting Concerns". Bloomberg. Retrieved September 24, 2011.