If he’s not Jewish he should be.
Hugh Hendry has a big mouth, as Hugh Hendry will tell you.
With a sharp wit and a sharper tongue, Mr. Hendry, a plain-spoken Scot, has positioned himself as the public contrarian thinker of this city’s very private hedge fund community.
The euro? It’s finished, Mr. Hendry proclaims.
China? Headed for a fall.
Barack Obama? “If there was a way to short Obama, I would,” Mr. Hendry said.
He should know. He has millions of dollars of his investors money to care for and has been right on most of the time.
Mr. Hendry runs the successful hedge fund firm Eclectica Asset Management. It is an old-school macroeconomic fund company with a big-think, globe-straddling style more akin to the Quantum Fund, of George Soros fame, than to the high-tech razzle-dazzle of Wall Street’s math-loving quant analysts.
At 41, Mr. Hendry is also emerging from the normally secretive world of hedge funds to captivate fans and foes with a surprising level of candor.
Last May, on British television, he verbally sparred with Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia and perhaps the best-known economist writing on developmental issues.
Before that, he took on Joseph E. Stiglitz, the Nobel laureate, about the future of the euro. “Hello, can I tell you about the real world?” Mr. Hendry interjected at one point. It was a huge hit on You Tube.
His verbal pyrotechnics have won Mr. Hendry a reputation for challenging the economics establishment. He is regarded and appreciated by many as overly pessimistic about, well, just about everything.
His big worry lately has been China. Like James Chanos, a prominent hedge fund manager in the United States, Mr. Hendry says he believes China’s days of heady growth are numbered. A crisis is coming, he insists.
The firm bet correctly that the financial troubles plaguing Greece would eventually ripple through to the market for German bonds, considered the European equivalent of ultra-safe US Treasurysecurities. But the firm lost money betting on European sovereign debt in the first quarter of last year.
His latest obsession is China. He likens the country to Starbucks: good at growing quickly but not so good at creating wealth.
“The idea is that things would happen today that are commonly thought of as impossible, most notably a significant reversal of China,” Mr. Hendry said.
Maps cover the walls of his office. On one, blue magnetic pins plot his recent trip through China. He filmed himself there in front of huge, empty office buildings and giant new bridges in the middle of nowhere — signs, he said, of a credit bubble.
Along with his fund co-manager Espen Baardsen, a former goalie for the Tottenham Hotspur soccer team, Mr. Hendry is devising ways to bet on a spectacular deterioration of China’s economy. He declined to divulge any details.