Sometimes the gap between popular narrative and truth is exposed very baldly. In Saturday’s Guardian Finance section the article Brexiters Hedge Fund wagers against Britain fail to pay off is gobsmacking but slightly misleading. Quotations are all from the article.
Crispin “Odey (who founded Odey Asset Management in 1991) was one of the most prominent supporters of the leave campaign and donated almost £900 000 to pro Brexit groups.” Hedge Funds made four of the five largest donations in the referendum campaign – all of them to leave. So his credentials and political leanings are clear. He copper bottoms this with his prime ministerial preference. “He has repeatedly called on Theresa May to resign as prime minister and said he would “love” Boris Johnson to replace her.”
Lets keep in mind that the key slogan of those keenest on Brexit is expressed by the injunction to “believe in Britain” – a masterpiece of messianic vacuity. You’d think that the funders of leave would be seeking exciting new ways to invest in the new global Britain, untrammelled by red tape and regulation – free to control its own borders by keeping out all those people who are eager to come to live and work here.
So, lets see what this true believer has actually done and where he has put his money. While funding the leave campaign…”he placed huge bets against the pound and government bonds before the June 2016 EU referendum, and made an estimated £220 million profit when the pound collapsed after a majority voted to leave the EU.”
In case this is not obvious, lets talk this through. He placed his huge bets that things would go badly before the referendum result. He must therefore have believed that the consequences of that would be negative on the pound and government bonds. On the day, he cashed in on the negative impact that he helped to create by financing the campaign to leave.
“On the day after the vote he told the BBC: ‘there’s an Italian expression – al mattino ha l’oro in bocca – the morning has gold in its mouth, and never has one felt so much that idea as this morning really.” Really.
And in the troubled days ahead, as the government talks of requisitioning ships, stockpiling medicine and keeping 3 500 soldiers on standby, “Odey has boasted that each day of Brexit related political crisis is a “good day” for him and his hedge fund. “I have had a good day” he told the Times last month when the pound fell 2%.”
The headline is misleading because the rake off that he is making by short selling UK government bonds and business ; to the tune of “£149 million of short positions against UK shops, banks, estate agents and property firms” slowed a little for most of last year, but has picked up rapidly since October; making Odey one of “the world’s best performing Hedge funds.”
Odey himself collected £5.5 million last year and £1.5 million this and stands to collect a lot more as the chaos continues. What price his “belief” for the rest of us?