Sunday, April 7, 2013

Dr. Michael J. Burry's commencement speech at UCLA

Dr. Michael J. Burry, gave a commencement speech at UCLA this year. If the name is not familiar, it should be. Burry was featured, for all of the right reasons, in The Big Short.
Information swarms us. It comforts us. It disrupts us. It’s an Age of Infinite Distraction, for those so willing. You are the generation that has had instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter, and Angry Birds nagging your fingertips at every moment. It’s been arguably as addictive as any other drug throughout history. And I do imagine it took some terrific willpower during your studies to study. 
Of course, it’s not lost on anyone that you started your term at UCLA in the midst of a global financial panic, the consequences of which are far from settled. The fault is not your own, but the future it leaves certainly is. 
As a result of what happened while you were growing up, you now face a future that will feature either another great recession during your 20s. OR, during your 40s, a US debt-to-GDP ratio exceeding 200%. And that’s not me, that’s the Congressional Budget Office. Me? I think they’re ignoring reflexivity, and I think you face both. 
Now Greece was at 160% debt to GDP when the last of its nine lives started running out. From my perspective, this is all the more tragic because the financial meltdown was both predictable and preventable. This was no black swan, and no other serendipitous excuse should be acceptable to anyone. 
Of late, Europe’s convulsions are in the news. Even this should not be surprising. Back in 2006, when a bunch of us shorted Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain, we called them the PIGS for a reason. I can explain it in one sentence: When the entitled elect themselves, the party accelerates, and the brutal hangover is inevitable. Californians, and indeed all Americans, ought to take note