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Barton M. Biggs
Nationality  United States
Education Yale University
Occupation Investor

Barton M. Biggs runs Traxis Partners, a multi-billion dollar hedge fund based in New York City. He formerly held the title of "chief global strategist" for Morgan Stanley and was with that firm for 30 years.

Biggs has appeared numerous times on CNBC and was a member of the Barron's Roundtable.

His influence could be seen when, in 1996, some traders were surprised that India funds suddenly became popular. "Barton Biggs is there, having a look around," one trader said. "Do you need to know more?"[1]

Biggs was named by Institutional Investor magazine to its "All-America Research Team" 10 times, and he was voted the top global strategist and first in global asset allocation from 1996 to 2000 by the magazine's "Investor Global Research Team" poll.[2]

"He's the ultimate big-picture man," according to a piece at the Web site of Smart Money magazine. "As the global investment strategist for Morgan Stanley, Barton Biggs is without question the premier prognosticator on the international scene and a mover of markets from Argentina to Hong Kong. It wouldn't be a stretch to say Biggs wrote the book on emerging-market investing."[1]

Contents

Correct Calls

  • He called the technology bubble and recession that followed a full year before it burst. (International Herald Tribune, 10/3/1998)

Mistakes

  • Biggs badly missed the true nature of the economy's problems leading to the 2008-9 recession:

Barton Biggs's Traxis Fund LP tumbled 10 percent in the first half of the year, hurt by bets that U.S. shares would appreciate. As recently as May, Biggs, 75, said the U.S. economy will grow in the second half of 2008, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index may climb to a record and commodity prices will retreat as much as 30 percent. [3]

  • He said he was bullish on Mexico shortly before the peso crashed in 1994.[1]

Life

The son of a chief investment officer of Bank of New York, Biggs graduated from Yale University in 1955 (where he studied with Robert Penn Warren, the poet and novelist[4]), and where he was a member of the Elihu society. Biggs later taught English at a prep school, played semiprofessional soccer and tried his hand at short-story writing. He joined E.F. Hutton in 1961, with a starting salary of $7,200 a year.[5]

Biggs joined Morgan Stanley as a managing director and general partner in 1973. The firm's first research director, he established Morgan Stanley Investment Management in 1975.[2]

He left Morgan Stanley in part, he said, because he found his job had evolved too much into managing people rather than formulating strategy.[6]

Biggs likes the intellectual challenge of running a fund, said Madhav Dhar, Biggs' partner at Traxis, a global macro fund. "He lives and breathes this stuff," according to Dhar. "He always has, ever since I've known him."[6]

He has two children residing that Utah and Georgia

Author

Biggs is the author of Hedgehogging, (308 pages; Wiley; 2006; ISBN 0-471-77191-0). The book came from a journal kept by the former creative writing major at Yale and chronicles some of the indignities of being in the hedge fund business as well as some of what Biggs calls "the very brilliant and often eccentric and obsessive people in this business."[6]

In the book, he writes about some of the quirks of hedge fund culture: Golf, for instance, is very popular. Perhaps that's because the game, like investing, is minutely measurable, to the last stroke. "Or maybe it's because hedge-fund guys are so competitive and have such massive egos," he writes.[4]

Biggs is also author of the 2008 book Wealth, War and Wisdom (358 pages; Wiley; January 2008; ISBN 978-0-470-22307-9). In this book, Biggs has a gloomy outlook for the economic future, and suggests that investors take survivalist measures such as looking into "polar cities" as safe refuges for future survivors of global warming. In the book, Biggs recommends that his readers should “assume the possibility of a breakdown of the civilized infrastructure.” He goes so far as to recommend planning adaptation strategies now and setting up survival retreats: “Your safe haven must be self-sufficient and capable of growing some kind of food,” Mr. Biggs writes. “It should be well-stocked with seed, fertilizer, canned food, wine, medicine, clothes, etc. Think Swiss Family Robinson. Even in America and Europe there could be moments of riot and rebellion when law and order temporarily completely breaks down.”[7]

Biggs has also written a third book, which will be published soon, this time a novel about the stock market.

Footnotes

  1. ^ a b c [1]Web page titled "Pundit Watch: Barton Biggs" at the Web site of Smart Money magazine, no date, accessed August 18, 2006
  2. ^ a b [2]News release from Morgan Stanley, January 17, 2006, "Barton Biggs to Become a Consultant to Morgan Stanley after 30 Years with the Firm; Will Advise Morgan Stanley Hedge Fund as Founder of New Firm," accessed August 18, 2006
  3. ^ [3] "Soros Successors Thiel, Howard Prove Global Bears Rule Markets," by Katherine Burton at Bloomberg News Web site, J August 1, 2008
  4. ^ a b [4]"Hedge Funds," article by Lawrence C. Strauss, SmartMoney.com Web site, June 1, 2006, accessed August 18, 2006
  5. ^ [5] "Morgan Stanley's Biggs Shares Pain of Top Hedge-Fund Players," a review of Biggs' book Hedgehogging by Jeffrey Burke at Bloomberg News Web site, January 6, 2006, accessed August 18, 2006
  6. ^ a b c [6]"Barton Biggs Shines a Light on Hedge Funds" by Jim Zarroli, National Public Radio Morning Edition, February 20, 2006, accessed August 18, 2006.
  7. ^ Duck and Cover: It’s the New Survivalism - New York Times

External links

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