June 19, 1971 |
New York, New York, U.S.
|Residence||Saratoga, California, U.S.|
|Alma mater||University of California, Los Angeles
|Known for||Shorting the 2007 mortgage bond market by swapping collateralized debt obligations (CDOs)|
Michael J. Burry (born June 19, 1971) is an American physician, investor, and hedge fund manager. He was the founder of the hedge fund Scion Capital, which he ran from 2000 until 2008, and then closed to focus on his own personal investments. Burry was one of the first investors to recognize and profit from the impending subprime mortgage crisis.
Early life and education
Burry was born in 1971 and attended Santa Teresa High School in San Jose, California. He attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) for his undergraduate education in economics and pre-med studies. He graduated from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and did his residency in neurology at Stanford Hospital and Clinics. While off duty at night, he worked on his hobby, financial investing. On one occasion, Burry had been working so hard studying both for medical school and his personal financial interests that he fell asleep standing up during a complicated surgery and crashed into the oxygen tent that had been built around the patient. As a result, he was thrown out of the operating room by the lead surgeon.
Burry left work as a Stanford Hospital neurology resident to start his own hedge fund. He had already developed a reputation as an investor by demonstrating success in "value investing," which he wrote about on message boards on the stock discussion site Silicon Investor beginning in 1996. He was so successful with his stock picks that he attracted the interest of companies such as Vanguard, White Mountains Insurance Group and prominent investors such as Joel Greenblatt.
After shutting down his website in November 2000, Burry started Scion Capital, funded by a small inheritance and loans from his family. The company was named after Terry Brooks' The Scions of Shannara, a favorite book, which was published in March 1990, when Burry was 19 years old. Burry quickly earned extraordinary profits for his investors. According to the author Michael Lewis, "in his first full year, 2001, the S&P 500 fell 11.88 percent. Scion was up 55 percent. The next year, the S&P 500 fell again, by 22.1 percent, and yet Scion was up again: 16 percent. The next year, 2003, the stock market finally turned around and rose 28.69 percent, but Mike Burry beat it again—his investments rose by 50 percent. By the end of 2004, Mike Burry was managing $600 million and turning money away."
In 2005, Burry started to focus on the subprime market. Through his analysis of mortgage lending practices in 2003 and 2004, he correctly forecast that the real estate bubble would collapse as early as 2007. Burry's research on the values of residential real estate convinced him that subprime mortgages, especially those with "teaser" rates, and the bonds based on these mortgages would begin losing value when the original rates reset, often in as little as two years after initiation. This conclusion led Burry to short the market by persuading Goldman Sachs to sell him credit default swaps against subprime deals he saw as vulnerable. This analysis proved correct, and Burry profited accordingly. Burry has since said, "I don't go out looking for good shorts. I'm spending my time looking for good longs. I shorted mortgages because I had to. Every bit of logic I had led me to this trade and I had to do it."
Though he suffered an investor revolt (where some investors worried the logic was wrong and withdrew their investment in Scion Capital's hedge fund) before his predictions came true, Burry earned a personal profit of $100 million and a profit for his remaining investors of more than $700 million. Scion Capital ultimately recorded returns of 489.34 percent (net of fees and expenses) between its November 1, 2000 inception and June 2008. The S&P 500 returned just under three percent including dividends over the same period.
According to his website, Burry liquidated his credit default swap short positions by April 2008 and did not benefit from the taxpayer-funded bailouts of 2008 and 2009. He subsequently liquidated his company to focus on his personal investment portfolio.
In an April 3, 2010, op-ed for The New York Times, Burry argued that anyone who studied the financial markets carefully in 2003, 2004, and 2005 could have recognized the growing risk in the subprime markets. He faulted federal regulators for failing to listen to warnings from outside a closed circle of advisors.
Currently, Burry manages an asset management firm called Scion Asset Management.
Burry is married, with children, and currently lives in Saratoga, California. His son was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, and Burry believes he himself has Asperger syndrome after reading about the disorder.
In popular culture
- Zuckerman, G: The Greatest Trade Ever: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of How John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Made Financial History
- Michael Lewis, "Betting on the Blind Side,", Vanity Fair, April 2010.
- Carey, Pete (April 6, 2008). "Mercury News Interview: Hedge fund manager saw subprime meltdown coming". San Jose Mercury News. San Jose, California. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
- Michael Lewis. The Big Short, W. W. Norton, 2010. ISBN 978-0-393-07223-5
- Profiling "The Big Short's" Michael Burry Zero Hedge, Tyler Durden, 07/20/2011. Retrieved 07/20/2011
- Anderson, Jenny (March 9, 2007). "Winners amid gloom of defaults". The New York Times.
- Kakutani, Michiko (March 15, 2010). "Investors Who Foresaw the Meltdown". The New York Times.
- "Michael Burry Profiled: Bloomberg Risk Takers". Bloomberg Businessweek. July 20, 2012.
- Scion Capital website, accessed March 30, 2010.
- Burry, Michael J. (April 3, 2010). "I Saw the Crisis Coming. Why Didn't the Fed?". The New York Times.
- "Author Michael Lewis on Wall Street's Delusion," 60 Minutes, March 14, 2010.
- What Is Michael Burry Doing Today? ‘The Big Short’ Character Is Still Weary Of The Financial Market
- "Michael Burry: Subprime Short-Seller No. 1," , The New York Times, March 1, 2010
- "Betting on the Blind Side" Excerpt from "The Big Short"
- "A Primer on Scion Capital’s Subprime Mortgage Short", Michael Burry, M.D. November 7, 2006
- "Michael Burry’s FCIC Testimony – Audio", FCIC Staff Audiotape of Interview with Michael Burry