Tuesday 12 December 2017

The Punt: Bond investor cashes in where angels fear to tread

Michael Hasenstab
Michael Hasenstab

Can Michael Hasenstab do it again? That's the big question for backers of global bond giant Franklin Templeton after the California whiz kid who made billions betting on Ireland's recovery emerged as a top holder of Ukrainian bonds.

The giant east European country is teetering on the brink of an economic crisis, driving down the price of its bonds on the markets.

That's a familiar story here, where just two years ago panicked investors were only too happy to hand over their Irish bonds to Mr Hasenstab at knockdown prices.

He cleaned up on the Irish investment by correctly assessing that the country would eventually ride out the worst of the debt crisis, helped by the calming effect of his own Irish purchases.

Hasenstab is hoping for a repeat performance in the Ukraine after snapping up around a fifth of the country's government bonds, according to the 'Financial Times'.

Ukraine is very different to Ireland. The country is squeezed, literally and metaphorically, between Russia and Europe. It is suffering from a budget deficit, a current account deficit, and, unlike us, has its own currency to support.

Bad as it might seem for the Ukraine right now, Michael Hasenstab's form suggests he did his homework before getting involved.

That successful form also means that this time he is likely to have a plethora of money managers clinging to his coat tales, all hoping that he, and they, can replicate the Irish success story.

Irish Independent

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