Michael Burry kept remarkably quiet for most of 2023, and some speculate it’s because of a slew of doomsaying market predictions that never panned out – and which have finally taught him to keep his big mouth shut.
The Scion Asset Management founder — whose prediction of the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis and shorting the housing market earned him a portrayal by Christian Bale in “The Big Short” — was an aggressively bearish voice during the months leading up to last April.
In September 2022, he predicted the “mother of all crashes” for the stock market, saying the carnage could be “worse than 2008.”
Elsewhere, he declared that Elon Musk “should be” shorting Tesla shares.
In November, Burry cryptically said the market had “no idea how short I am.”
When the Silicon Valley Bank crisis broke last spring, Burry tweeted, “It is possible today we found our Enron.”
A few weeks later at the end of March, however, Burry admitted he “was wrong” after delivering an ominous, one-word warning two months earlier urging investors: “Sell.”
At the time, the tech-focused Nasdaq 100 index had entered a bull market.
“There has been no BTFD generation like you,” Burry added in a seemingly bitter follow-up tweet. The acronym BTFD stands for ‘buy the f—king dip.”
Burry has been remarkably quiet since, having deleted all his posts and gone dark on X. Still, in August, securities filings revealed Burry had bought bearish options against the S&P 500, hedging an $886.6 million bet against the index.
Specifically, Burry bought puts — a financial instrument that bets a stock is going down — against ETFs that track both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq. While it’s unclear if he held onto those puts through the end of the year, he was holding them for at least six months beginning in April, according to filings.
The S&P ended 2023 up 24% and the Nasdaq ended the year up 43%.
Elsewhere, Burry halfway through last year bet against Blackrock’s iShares Semiconductor ETF — which includes stocks like Nvidia and Intel which notched serious gains last year. The index was up 50% and hit a record high by the end of the year.
Filings for the fourth quarter of the year have yet to be made public — but some investors are guessing that Burry’s silence in recent months is an indication his numbers aren’t so good.
“These guys get it right one time and they won’t shut up afterwards,” one investor said. “Maybe after getting it so wrong this year he’ll finally hang it up.”
It wasn’t all bad for Burry. In what looked like an unusual fit of optimism, he snapped up troubled regional bank stocks during the crisis and flipped them for a tidy profit, according to filings.
As for Tesla, Burry revealed he was shorting the stock when it was around $240 per share.
By the end of the year the stock had surged to more than $380 per share.
“The streets are littered with people who’ve tried and failed to short Tesla,” another source remarked.
Scion Asset Management did not respond to a request for comment.