Transcript: Robert Koenigsberger – The Huge Image



The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Robert Koenigsberger, Gramercy Funds Management, is under.

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ANNOUNCER: That is Masters in Enterprise with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio.

BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast, I’ve an additional particular visitor. His identify is Robert Koenigsberger, and he has an enchanting profession in rising market, opportunistic and distressed debt investing. He began at a small boutique earlier than going to Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers, and finally launching his personal store referred to as Gramercy Funds Administration.

For those who’re keen on what it’s like investing in rising market debt, how that a part of the funding agency has modified over the many years because the world itself has modified. He started in South America and Latin America, earlier than investing in locations like Russia and China and Turkey. Happily for them, they have been out of Russia lengthy earlier than the newest invasion of Ukraine occurred.

It’s simply an enchanting dialog about trying on the world from each bottoms up and top-down, in addition to interested by what valuations are like, how seemingly are macro occasions, the affect you’re getting not simply the return on capital, however as famously stated in mounted earnings, a return of your capital. It truly is a really, very completely different method than what we consider as typical fairness investing. And it not solely has the benefits of there being inefficiencies, so there’s the potential to generate alpha, however in case you do it proper, it’s fairly non-correlated with most likely the remainder of your portfolio. I discovered it fascinating, and I feel additionally, you will.

So with no additional ado, my interview with Gramercy Funds Administration’s Robert Koenigsberger.

Let’s speak a bit of bit about your background, you get an MBA in Wharton, after which a grasp’s in worldwide research and Latin America. Your graduate thesis was on the origins and implications of the Latin American debt crises. It looks as if you have been constructed to commerce distressed EM debt.

ROBERT KOENIGSBERGER, FOUNDER, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, MANAGING PARTNER. GRAMERCY: In-built and fortunate, fairly frankly, you recognize, really return to undergrad the place I did political science and historical past of Latin America, and I used to be requested to do an identical thesis on — or to do a thesis. And my mother and father informed me I needed to discover a job on the identical time. And so I attempted to place the thesis and the job search collectively. And the one situation in Latin America, which was my main again in ’86, ‘87 was the Latin American debt disaster.

RITHOLTZ: Positive.

KOENIGSBERGER: So I did my examine on that, and I obtained lucky sufficient to satisfy a gentleman who had been the Finance Minister of Peru. He’d been the top of Wells Fargo Worldwide. He lent it, he borrowed it, he defaulted on it, and he had this nice boutique out in California. So I really feel actually lucky to have spent 35 years doing the identical factor in rising markets. And you recognize, the gentleman I labored with was only a nice skilled.

RITHOLTZ: So late ‘80s, early ‘90s, you’re a VP for an advisory agency that leads some sovereign debt restructurings and transactions in each South America and Central America. Inform us what that have was like throughout that interval.

KOENIGSBERGER: Rising markets within the late ‘80s was very completely different than the rising markets of 2022. I feel it’s truthful to say it was a little bit of the Wild West. You realize, return — the whole — you recognize, it was the misplaced decade, proper? The Eighties was the misplaced decade in Latin America. Mexico defaults in ’8. Just about, the whole area is in default by the top of the last decade. So what it was like was, you recognize, placing Humpty Dumpty again collectively once more, and coping with international locations that had defaulted debt and taking them by way of what’s now often called the Brady debt restructuring. And having these bonds that no one actually understood, come out of it. And that, fairly frankly, was the start of the of the asset class.

And I bear in mind, you recognize, even like we have been doing — you’d have international locations that with shared borders that couldn’t speak to one another, that one or the opposite, and you could possibly get within the center and do some type of debt swap, or a buyback or what have you ever. And so certainly one of my fond reminiscences was, like, Guatemala, I feel it was a 1989 and I didn’t know what FX was. I didn’t know what letters of credit score have been, and I needed to go get a letter of credit score. I needed to go to Guatemala, I needed to current it. After which we did a buyback, however we obtained paid in quetzales, which was the native foreign money. And so my job for principally two weeks was to rise up, go promote as a lot FX or purchase as many {dollars} as I may, after which return to the resort and sit by the pool.

RITHOLTZ: That’s not a foul gig.

KOENIGSBERGER: No. It was nice.

RITHOLTZ: So that you go from that onto Mom Merrill for 3 years, the place you traded distressed EM. You then’re a VP at Lehman Brothers, and this was late ‘90s, not the Lehman Brothers we type of are accustomed to from the monetary disaster. What was it like at these large outlets, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers, doing distressed EM debt?

KOENIGSBERGER: Positive. I imply, to begin with, they have been nice experiences as a result of, you recognize, I began at a really small boutique atmosphere. And once more, I’m Political Science and Historical past main previous to graduate college, in order that I really get skilled in finance. To steer the financial institution’s efforts in investing in sovereign debt restructurings and to carry our purchasers alongside was a fantastic expertise. And I obtained to be taught loads about how markets perform or not. And I obtained to get his really feel for Wall Road politics, which I came upon actually weren’t for me and all of the conflicts of curiosity that one finds in Wall Road.

RITHOLTZ: You talked about earlier that the late ‘80s, early ‘90s have been very completely different than the state of EM debt right this moment. How has the trade modified? How is EM distressed debt right this moment completely different than it was 30 years in the past?

KOENIGSBERGER: So distressed is completely different, and EM is completely different. You realize, I’d begin with —

RITHOLTZ: Break it down.

KOENIGSBERGER: — you recognize, after I obtained to Merrill in 1995, and also you appeared on the commerce blotter of who you have been buying and selling with, it was principally banks buying and selling with one another. And on occasion, a consumer would come by. So there was an incredible quantity of proprietary buying and selling, you recognize, hedge funds within the again e book, a bit of little bit of a entrance e book. So I’d characterize it as little bit of a weird and fewer of a market as a result of, you recognize, after I was at Merrill and I’d name JPMorgan and I’d promote one thing to them. And they’d name Chase, and they’d name Lehman, and it was simply this roundabout and the market would drop 5 factors or what have you ever. So —

RITHOLTZ: Musical chairs, the final one holding obtained caught with it.

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. And so, you recognize, tended to have a — create lots of volatility, you recognize, if everybody wished to purchase or promote the identical factor on the identical time. As we speak, the market is massively bigger. You realize, it was predominantly a sovereign market again then. Now, it’s sovereign, quasi-sovereign U.S. greenback, native corporates, excessive yield, et cetera.

RITHOLTZ: What’s quasi-sovereign?


RITHOLTZ: Like state versus nationwide or one thing?

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. So often — and I often discuss quasi-sovereign and sovereign adjoining.


KOENIGSBERGER: So sovereign is simply the debt obligation of the nation.


KOENIGSBERGER: Quasi-sovereign is often an entity owned by the state that situation —

RITHOLTZ: Like a GSE or something like that.

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah, like, take Pemex in Mexico versus Mexico, proper?

RITHOLTZ: Received it.

KOENIGSBERGER: After which sovereign adjoining are fascinating as nicely, as a result of they’re not explicitly owned by the state, however they’re so essential that there’s some type of nexus between the sovereign and that company. However you recognize, right this moment, the markets — you recognize, take into consideration now, there’s a purchase facet, ETFs, ‘40 Acts. The purchase facet is a lot bigger than the road. It was simply the road. Road had lots of steadiness sheet.

As we speak, in case you take rising market corporates for example, there’s — return 5 years, 10 years, rising market corporates are 5 occasions bigger right this moment than they have been again then. Return proper after 2008, each financial institution made markets. Each financial institution had steadiness sheet. As we speak, you might have much less banks, much less steadiness sheet, much less market-making, and a extremely large purchase facet. So you might have inelastic provide when individuals need to purchase. Like, if in case you have $1, there’ll be somebody in rising markets that wishes to situation a bond and take that greenback from you. However when there’s outflows, you don’t have inelastic demand, and that’s the place you are inclined to get this volatility and dislocations that we’ve seen.

RITHOLTZ: So let me keep on with sovereign adjoining. Within the U.S., as we realized throughout the monetary disaster, the government-sponsored enterprises like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and by extension, Sallie Mae, you go down the entire checklist of these items, the U.S. authorities’s Full Religion and Credit score, although it wasn’t obligated to those publicly-traded quasi personal entities, the U.S. authorities nonetheless ended up standing behind them for systemic causes. In order that’s right here in the US. Do you might have comparable conditions in Latin America and elsewhere? Or is it simply nation by nation? It’s all utterly completely different.

KOENIGSBERGER: To begin with, let’s unpack that. And rising market shouldn’t be this homogeneous asset class. So virtually something you and I may discuss, it could be completely different. You realize, there’d be dispersion of things. However when you concentrate on, you recognize, bailouts of corporates, sovereign adjoining or what have you ever, we’ve actually seen it in rising markets. And I’d say essentially the most — you recognize, the best instance proper now’s in China property, in case you’ve seen what’s occurring there. So —

RITHOLTZ: Positive.

KOENIGSBERGER: So it began as a disaster for Evergrande, proper? And I feel the Chinese language authorities wished to type of isolate Evergrande after which insulate the remainder of the sector. And now, what we’ve seen is that it contaminated — you recognize, the Evergrande simply poured over to even the most effective names just like the Nation Backyard or what have you ever. And so proper after the celebration congress, we’ve simply seen large quantities of support. I’d argue that what we’re witnessing right this moment is the TARP Program in China for the property sector. And you’ll see, you recognize, property have gone. We have been shopping for performing bonds at 8 cents on the greenback —


KOENIGSBERGER: — that you simply needed to pay for a crude, proper, which is a bizarre idea to —

RITHOLTZ: To pay for a crude?

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. So it’s a crude curiosity. So perhaps it’s obtained 4 factors of curiosity on an 8 cent bond, that sometimes when one thing trades at 8, individuals don’t assume it’s going to maintain paying. After which as soon as this system got here out, this Chinese language TARP, if you’ll, rapidly 8 cent bonds have been buying and selling at 32. This morning, they’re like 60.


KOENIGSBERGER: Simply on this bailout notion.

RITHOLTZ: How will we get me a few of these? That sounds very enticing.

KOENIGSBERGER: And we’ll speak later.

RITHOLTZ: So I used to be going to ask you what trades or offers stand out as particularly memorable, that appears to be pretty latest, memorable. Something from the Wild West days that stands proud as — I imply, I like the concept of simply going out and shopping for {dollars} after which sit in poolside for the remainder of the day —

KOENIGSBERGER: It was enjoyable.

RITHOLTZ: — ingesting, you recognize, margaritas or no matter they the native drink was. What else actually stands out?

KOENIGSBERGER: You realize, if I am going again to the late ‘80s or early ‘90s, and you recognize, you’re asking about distressed then versus distressed right this moment. You realize, I feel one of the vital fascinating issues in distressed is when persons are throwing away the keys, you need to be there to catch them. And I bear in mind one time in — I feel was ‘89 or ’90, we’re proper on the finish of the, you recognize, the misplaced decade in rising markets and all of the banks are principally — not all of the banks, however a number of the banks have been like simply getting out of Latin America. And certainly one of them —

RITHOLTZ: Simply get me out. That’s it, full capitulation.

KOENIGSBERGER: That’s proper. So one instance that was lots of enjoyable, I feel, was ‘89 or ’90. Financial institution of America determined they wished to promote their department in Lima, Peru, and the worth tag was 1,000,000 {dollars}. I’m like 25 years previous. My boss, this gentleman I discussed had been the Finance Minister of Peru was like, I want you to go right down to Peru and check out the financial institution, do due diligence, proper, 25 years previous. So I don’t know in case you’ve ever been to Lima, however in —


KOENIGSBERGER: — the middle of Lima, in San Isidro, there was a retorno, like a roundabout, and one large tower. And the highest of the tower says Financial institution of America. We didn’t have cell telephones or what have you ever. So I obtained to run again to the resort and I stated, you recognize, Carlos, is the constructing included? He stated sure. I stated it’s obtained to be price 1,000,000 bucks.


KOENIGSBERGER: Proper? So we paid 1,000,000 {dollars} for that in 1990, made $3 million buying and selling FX earlier than we offered it. And it was offered for $50 million three years later.


KOENIGSBERGER: And that turned the start of one of many largest teams in Peru right this moment. And so quick ahead after graduate college, I’m having lunch with a buddy from college. And Eric says — he’s working for Financial institution of America, and I stated, Eric, nicely, what are you guys doing? Oh, we’re considering of opening a department in Lima, Peru.

RITHOLTZ: Oh, I’ve a constructing for you.

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. And one other one actually shortly, you recognize, Russia has been a lot within the information nowadays.

RITHOLTZ: Positive.

KOENIGSBERGER: And I bear in mind the Wild Wild West in Russia was the Yeltsin period, the ‘90s, the period of default. And I bear in mind going there with a gaggle of buyers in — I feel it was June of 1999. Their defaulted debt was buying and selling at 6 cents. And we go into this convention room at Vnesheconombank, which was the obligor, or the export-import Financial institution of Russia. And this dealer walks in and he’s utterly raveled, and he goes, I need to know who’s shopping for again my debt. You guys are getting in my method. I’m making an attempt to purchase again my debt, biggest purchase sign that any of us have seen.


KOENIGSBERGER: The issue is we don’t have cell telephones, proper? So it’s a race again to the resort to see who can name their buying and selling desk quick sufficient to purchase Russia. And in case you look in your Bloomberg display right this moment, on that day, the asset went from 6 cents to 12 cents —

RITHOLTZ: Wow. Doubled.

KOENIGSBERGER: — simply on this assembly. Yeah.

RITHOLTZ: That’s wonderful. I like this quote of yours, which now I perceive significantly better, “I’ve been doing rising markets since earlier than they emerged.”

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. I imply, you recognize, that’s oftentimes what I speak with purchasers about as a result of, you recognize, in case you return to the Eighties, it was — I wouldn’t name it an asset class. It was a bunch of financial institution loans in default. It was submerging at the moment, proper? And it was on — I suppose you impolitely referred to as the Third World debt disaster, lesser developed nation debt disaster. However nobody was interested by placing an index round —


KOENIGSBERGER: — a bunch of defaulted bonds. So I used to be lucky sufficient to be there as we remodeled defaulted loans to performing bonds. After which when JPMorgan made the index in 1980, pardon me, 1992, I feel that was actually the start of rising markets debt as an asset class.

RITHOLTZ: Fairly fascinating. So let’s speak a bit of bit about Gramercy, what led you from large outlets to launching your personal agency? And have been you all the time worldwide debt centered?

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah, a number of issues. I imply, I began in a boutique atmosphere, and I by no means actually thought that I used to be going to remain on Wall Road for a protracted time period. I all the time wished to do one thing entrepreneurial. Clearly, I wished to remain invested and have a profession in rising market debt. However — so you recognize, the components behind beginning Gramercy have been a number of.

One, you recognize, I discussed battle of curiosity on Wall Road. And when you’re going by way of a sovereign debt restructuring, that’s only a negotiation. I’m sitting there representing the financial institution, and I’m sitting throughout from the senior debt negotiator from the Russian Federation, or wherever it might be. And I bear in mind on the banks, you recognize, on my sides can be somebody from funding banking, somebody from company relations, and so I’m simply pushing to get the financial institution and our purchasers paid. And these guys are interested by the subsequent —


KOENIGSBERGER: — the subsequent commerce in Russia or no matter it might be. So one is, you recognize, I actually wished to have a conflict-free, mission-driven agency. And our mission is admittedly easy. All we do is give attention to an funding administration. We need to give attention to the well-being of our purchasers, our portfolio investments of their communities, and our group members. That’s it. And that’s laborious to do in a giant, large store on Wall Road.

You realize, clearly, eat what you kill. I wished a meritocracy. And Wall Road is, fairly frankly, something however a meritocracy due to all of the politics and what have you ever. I bear in mind the day I made up my thoughts to begin Gramercy was on the finish of the ‘97 bonus yr, early ‘98. Now return to Lehman, they virtually blew up in Mexico in 1995.


KOENIGSBERGER: We have been principally — I went to work there proper after that. We had no aspirations for P&L in 1996, little or no aspirations so I simply don’t lose cash, proper. That was rising market debt for Lehman and —

RITHOLTZ: So what’s it? Only a service for the banks and purchasers that wished publicity?

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. And don’t take lots of danger and make some huge cash, supposedly, proper? And so I am going into ’97, my e book, the restructuring e book has a $5 million, what do you name it, price range, then they raised it to 10, then they raised it to 30, after which they raised it to 40. So I walked into my bonus dialogue in January or February of 1998 and it begins with, nicely, we virtually made it, proper? In order that they have been making an attempt to — attempt to principally say, because you didn’t get to the 40, you recognize, you must count on to receives a commission very nicely.

So I stated, nicely, wait a minute, simply cease proper right here. This dialog is over. I’ll come again tomorrow. You place a distinct quantity on the piece of paper, and that was the second that I made a decision I wished to begin the agency. And, you recognize, we’re purely there for our purchasers. And if our purchasers do nicely, we do nicely. And that’s all that issues.

RITHOLTZ: I’ve heard variations of that exact story. I’ve skilled that exact story over and over. Generally the short-sightedness of higher administration on Wall Road is surprising. You simply see all of those tremendous worthwhile companies with essentially the most profitable merchants. I’m genuinely shocked when individuals say, yeah, then it’s simply not price it.

KOENIGSBERGER: I’ll let you know one other story. I bear in mind after I left Merrill Lynch, so Fed began elevating charges in ’94. We’ve obtained the tequila disaster in Mexico. And I resigned, and my boss is Venezuelan and the large boss is Cuban. And the Venezuelan stated, nicely, you bought to go speak to the Cuban. And they also begin speaking in Spanish in entrance of me. And so they go —

RITHOLTZ: Are you bilingual in any respect?

KOENIGSBERGER: I’m bilingual, however they didn’t know that.

RITHOLTZ: However they don’t know that.

KOENIGSBERGER: I converse a bit of Turkish too. My spouse is Turkish as nicely. However — so I am going upstairs and meet with the large boss and so they begin chatting in Spanish. And so they go, you recognize, you informed me that there have been no different jobs on the market, that we didn’t must pay this value. Proper? So then he turns to me goes, Robert, you recognize, what can I let you know? And I answered him again in Spanish, I stated I simply heard every part. Thanks very a lot.

RITHOLTZ: By the way in which, how are you going to do rising market debt? I imply, I do know everyone all over the place roughly speaks English. However isn’t it an infinite benefit to have the ability to converse within the native language?

KOENIGSBERGER: Completely. To begin with, I imply, lots of locations we go, English isn’t essentially spoken nicely, even on the most senior ranges of presidency. So to have the ability to converse, search info, persuade others of their language could be very useful. I’m not going to say I do it as nicely in Spanish as I do in English. However that’s very useful too.

You realize, rising market is all about assessing individuals, proper? So we have now to consider credit score danger like everyone else. However on the finish of the day, rising markets danger is about credit score tradition, individuals, how do they behave in occasions of duress prior to now, predict how they’re going to behave sooner or later. It’s useful to have the ability to assess that prediction in that language.

RITHOLTZ: So on the fairness facet, some individuals say you don’t actually need boots on the bottom in rising markets. I don’t know the way true that’s, however it actually sounds prefer it’s not true on the debt or credit score facet, particularly a distressed circumstance.

KOENIGSBERGER: Now, I imply, boots on the bottom are important, and I’d say each inner boots and exterior boots, proper. So we have now our personal individuals. We’ve our personal platforms. We’ve places of work in Argentina, and Turkey, and Mexico and what have you ever. And people persons are actually essential for sourcing offers, doing due diligence on offers, doing due diligence on individuals. You realize, fairly frankly, certainly one of our largest strengths is on our web site. It’s all of the relationships we’ve had for 35 years with individuals in numerous international locations that can provide you good info on individuals.

You realize, I bear in mind a narrative in Thailand a number of years in the past. We have been on the point of purchase the debt of a rustic — of an organization that had come out of debt restructuring. And you recognize, our analysis guys did their work. The merchants did the work. We preferred the worth. We preferred the entry level. Properly, then we went as much as our community, exterior lawyer who had sat within the debt restructuring conversations, and the lawyer says to me, Robert, earlier than you make investments, let me let you know what the debt restructuring appear to be. I stated, nice. So it was a patriarch, former army man, had the discussions at his home, not a legislation agency. You have been escorted into the convention room by way of three ranges of safety.

RITHOLTZ: Actually? Wow.

KOENIGSBERGER: And the gentleman begins the negotiations. He goes, let’s have a toast. Right here’s to my wealth and to your well being. You simply must have individuals on the bottom to select. That’s simply unhealthy.

RITHOLTZ: And now, is {that a} native customized, or is {that a} refined menace? What’s that?

KOENIGSBERGER: I imply, I feel it was a refined menace. And once more, you recognize, I wouldn’t —

RITHOLTZ: Or not so refined.

KOENIGSBERGER: I wouldn’t make that blanket assertion, you recognize, all through rising markets. However fairly frankly, you recognize, after I see some child of their 20s or 30s, begin a enterprise. And you recognize, there are three or 4 individuals round their Bloomberg screens, and so they don’t have the interior analysts and so they don’t have the exterior community, I don’t know the way they assume they’ll do it.

RITHOLTZ: That’s actually fairly fascinating. You talked about your store, you might have places of work all over the world, proper? What international locations do you might have places of work at?

KOENIGSBERGER: So we’re primarily based in Greenwich, Connecticut. We’ve places of work in Latin America, in Mexico, Peru, Argentina. We’ve a lending platform, an workplace in Turkey, Brazil, performed some stuff in Africa as nicely by way of a lending platform. And you recognize, getting again to the native presence, having a platform, having your personal group available in the market, you recognize, has all the apparent advantages. But in addition, it provides you the flexibility to get depth and breadth. And you recognize, our enterprise, notably our personal credit score enterprise, the place we’re doing asset-backed lending within the nation. And I bear in mind a buddy who does home personal credit score informed me as soon as, you recognize, Robert, it’s simply as simple to do a $400 million mortgage as a $40 million mortgage.

And so what we’re making an attempt to do with these platforms is get depth and breadth within the completely different areas. So if I am going to Mexico, for instance, the place we’re lending to the suppliers to Pemex, individuals who lay pipes, individuals who construct the platforms, in case you do it on a one-off foundation, you possibly can’t actually scale it. However if in case you have a platform of devoted individuals to that and the controls, it provides you the flexibility to depth and breadth in Mexico to take a look at different industries, now perhaps we are able to take a look at actual property, but additionally take into consideration the identical trade in a spot like Colombia, or no matter it might be.

RITHOLTZ: So I feel I do know the reply to this, however I’ve to ask, you might be long-only. And I’d think about there are all types of alternatives on the quick facet the place you possibly can see one thing, beginning to circle the drain and make a guess to the draw back. I’ve to ask, why long-only when there’s so many alternatives on the draw back?

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. And let me make clear, so we have now 4 main technique teams throughout the agency. One among them is long-only, and we do, you recognize, 4 subsets there. The opposite is options, the place we are able to do lengthy, quick, alpha shorts, what have you ever. The third one is what we name capital options, or personal credit score, or asset-backed lending. And the final one is particular conditions. So I agree with you, typically, you recognize, in long-only, the one method you possibly can specific a adverse view is to not have any publicity.

RITHOLTZ: Sit in your arms, proper?

KOENIGSBERGER: However after we begin interested by our various group, we are able to take into consideration relative worth, we are able to take into consideration lengthy/quick. We are able to take into consideration doing issues with derivatives that offer you type of, you recognize, a name on the left tail, so to talk.

KOENIGSBERGER: So is that extra of a hedge or — what I’m listening to is three of your 4 methods appear to be primarily lengthy and one technique has that chance to go quick in order for you, or debt on the draw back?

KOENIGSBERGER: So our particular conditions group, we do lots of litigation finance.

RITHOLTZ: Oh, actually?

KOENIGSBERGER: So — and in litigation finance, you recognize, essentially the most tough factor to foretell is the end result of the litigation.

RITHOLTZ: Positive.

KOENIGSBERGER: Proper? Properly, we are able to really hedge that. We are able to really purchase insurance coverage, proper? There’s insurance coverage firms that can, you recognize, give you insurance coverage for perhaps, you recognize, if it’s a $800 million declare, and you should buy insurance coverage for $10 million to insure the $10 million litigation, and it prices you $3 million, that’s fairly good asymmetry when it comes to —


KOENIGSBERGER: — you recognize, in case you lose, you lose the three. However in case you win, you’re in for $800 million.


KOENIGSBERGER: So we use hedging and —

RITHOLTZ: However that’s not the identical as, you recognize, simply I’m making a directional guess that nation X’s debt goes to get reduce in half.

KOENIGSBERGER: That’s proper. And look, there’s two alternative ways to do it. In long-only, and it’s dangerous to do it long-only, proper? And so it looks as if long-only is the much less dangerous. You realize, you’re going up in opposition to an index. And oftentimes, these indices have very dangerous proxies in them. I imply, let’s discuss Russia and Ukraine situation, proper?

RITHOLTZ: Positive.

KOENIGSBERGER: So we — you recognize, we had the great fortune to don’t have any Russia or no Ukraine in February of 2022. Our analysts walked in January and stated, I feel there’s a 50% likelihood that there’ll be some type of invasion, and the property will drop a bit of. Like, nicely, Petra, you bought the primary half proper. But when there’s an invasion with the capital lie or small lie, Ukraine has gone from 80 to twenty, and Russia has gone from par to 50. That’s nice. We missed it. February twenty fourth, we’re out. Nevertheless it stayed in an index for 2 months.


KOENIGSBERGER: And so what are the riskiest issues we needed to do is sit there and watch Russian debt commerce up and down whereas we have now zero publicity. So although, you recognize, you possibly can’t quick it, once you don’t personal an index, you really — it’s not riskless, proper? In our options, you recognize, extra conventional hedge funds, to your level, we are able to do alpha shorts. We are able to say and look, we have been lengthy safety in opposition to Russia in February twenty fourth. That was an alpha guess for us. It was like, you recognize what, we predict Russia has uneven draw back and we are able to specific that in that car.

RITHOLTZ: And I assume that that labored out fairly nicely.

KOENIGSBERGER: It labored out fairly nicely.

RITHOLTZ: So let’s keep on with Russia for a second. You realize, I appeared out and do not know what the endgame is right here. Can Putin experience this out? Can Russia survive with Putin? And when will that nation change into investable once more? It looks as if they’re not, they haven’t been for some time earlier than the invasion. It’s laborious to think about anybody wanting to place up lots of danger capital with them.

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. I feel it’s good to look again on the previous, the final time there was regime change in Russia to have the ability to triage that. And what I imply is Yeltsin, or pardon me, Putin has been round for thus lengthy, proper? You then obtained to return to the Yeltsin period, and I’ve learn and heard so many occasions that, you recognize, if Putin simply leaves, every part might be high-quality, proper? However I do not know what’s behind Putin and Russia.


KOENIGSBERGER: And I bear in mind being in Russia within the late ‘90s and you recognize, I’d get a name in the course of the evening, say, Yeltsin is within the hospital, and also you’d must triage which hospital. One was for cardiac, for coronary heart assault, and the opposite one was he was simply drunk —


KOENIGSBERGER: — in a sanatorium. And it made a giant distinction. And it mattered as a result of none of us knew what would occur if Yeltsin handed, proper? And so I’ll take that to right this moment, it’s like, you recognize, if Putin weren’t right here tomorrow, I can’t let you know what the politics appear to be there. And likewise, how is Russia going to be handled on the opposite facet of this? Proper? Is it going to be handled like Germany after World Warfare I or Germany after World Warfare II?


KOENIGSBERGER: Proper? You realize, will or not it’s embraced and that, you recognize, Putin was a foul man who led good individuals astray, and let’s have some type of reconstruction of Ukraine and Russia?


KOENIGSBERGER: Or is it going to be extra like Germany after World Warfare I the place that’s nonetheless a pariah state?

RITHOLTZ: Actually fairly fascinating. Let’s speak a bit of bit in regards to the state of EM right this moment. Valuations, not less than on the fairness facet, they’re the most cost effective we’ve seen in a few many years. What do you see once you’re trying on the debt and credit score facet of rising markets?

KOENIGSBERGER: One thing comparable, and you recognize, I feel what we have now noticed, and once more, we’re all credit score not fairness, however over the previous 25 years that we’ve been collectively for a group, there’s been 11 main dislocations in rising markets.

RITHOLTZ: World wide, completely different international locations, 11 occasions?

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. And I wouldn’t even name them systemic like we’ve seen right this moment. And so they all have type of appeared the identical, which is peak-to-trough, it’s taken about 5 months. They drop about 20%, 22%. Eight months later, it’s up like 27%. And 12 to 24 months later, it’s up 30% to 50%.


KOENIGSBERGER: So with that type of top-down historic framework, it’s simple to see that there’s low cost valuations in rising markets. However you recognize, we even have to consider the place we got here from, you recognize, like actually low rates of interest, lull liquidity, what have you ever.


KOENIGSBERGER: So we additionally must show out with the portfolios that we construct, that the identical sorts of anticipated returns are there. And you recognize, one of many stunning issues about mounted earnings versus fairness is we have now contractual coupons. And so in case you can choose good credit that pay their coupons, that roll down the curve to par, the arithmetic work, proper? That’s why after these large dislocations, in case you can choose a subset of credit score that has coupon, will hold paying, and roll down the curve in the direction of par, you then’re going to get a majority of these extraordinary returns. And I feel we’re in that sort of atmosphere right this moment.

Now, in fact, there’s lots of volatility and I feel one must be, you recognize, respectful of that volatility right this moment. However, you recognize, I proceed to assume that the anticipated returns within the vacation spot weren’t what could also be a bumpy journey.

RITHOLTZ: So given these types of numbers, the pullbacks, recoveries, what kind of correlations are there with different sorts of debt, be it performing or distressed equities and different asset lessons? It seems like this can be a pretty non-correlated group of investments.

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. And I feel you possibly can create lack of correlation, dependent about the way you assemble the portfolio. I imply, I feel in case you choose one return stream in rising markets and keep on with that return stream, you’re going to search out much more correlation to markets.

RITHOLTZ: Positive.

KOENIGSBERGER: What I actually like is on prime of those 4 return streams that we have now, we type of have a multi-asset, dynamic asset allocation course of. And that’s the place you’re in a position to create alpha and that’s the place you’re in a position to have actually low correlation to the markets. And you recognize, in the future markets are at all-time highs, so not that fascinating to need to purchase CUSIPs or public debt at that time.


KOENIGSBERGER: After which you might have a 22% dislocation. Relative worth has modified. Now, most folk don’t have the governance, don’t have the workers, et cetera, to have the ability to make the — I’m going to promote A and purchase B. I bear in mind like 2020, throughout COVID, and you recognize, we wrote at Gramercy that we anticipated there might be a dislocation within the fourth quarter of 2019. Markets are actually tightly wound, and other people ought to batten down the hatches. However prepare for the dislocation as a result of when it comes, that’s when the extraordinary alternatives come.

So we name everybody in March and April. So bear in mind, we talked about this. We didn’t know what was going to interrupt the camel’s again.


KOENIGSBERGER: Nevertheless it’s damaged. And these — we count on a — we aren’t certain if it’s going to be a V-shaped restoration, a W-shaped restoration. However we consider there’ll be a robust restoration. And we’d speak to our purchasers and prospects, and I’d say, nicely, let’s see, it’s March or April. I would have the ability to get you into the October board assembly. Proper? And in order that’s —

RITHOLTZ: Sorry, we don’t have that point for you. I want a solution by 5:00.

KOENIGSBERGER: In order that’s what — with our multi-asset technique, we wished to resolve for that drawback, which is — I name it a governance drawback. You realize, asset allocation I feel in rising markets, one, being dynamic isn’t simply handy, it’s needed. And that’s the way you create the dearth of correlation, and that’s the way you create alpha.

RITHOLTZ: Actually fairly fascinating. So the place are we within the current rising market cycle? There appears to be numerous completely different cycles within the area. Ought to we be optimistic about EM right here, or ought to we be worrying about EM right here?

KOENIGSBERGER: Look, I feel we’re cautiously optimistic and we’ve had that decision for a number of months. I’d most likely say after a ten% rally that we’ve had over the past 5, six weeks, perhaps a bit of extra cautious, however nonetheless optimistic within the medium time period. The rationale that, you recognize, we have now this optimism goes again to the arithmetic after these dislocations, proper. And this isn’t a blanket assertion about all rising market debt. However in case you can choose good — and identical to shares, proper, in case you choose — in case you can choose shares nicely, you possibly can considerably outperform an index.

And you recognize, if I confirmed you a chart of the dispersion of the returns throughout the JPMorgan Rising Market Bond Index, you wouldn’t consider it. I imply, issues down 15, issues up 15. Oil and fuel on one hand, and you recognize, importers of power on one other hand. So we’re cautiously optimistic. We see good returns within the medium time period. One has to consider how do you shield capital after a future like this. So we’re elevating a bit of bit of money right here, interested by hedge overlays and what have you ever. However, you recognize, we’re someplace nearer to the underside of the cycle than the highest.

RITHOLTZ: The following query is a bit apparent. We’ve seen a giant uptick in charges right here within the U.S. and all over the world. How do you take a look at EM primarily based on how the central banks of the growing world are postured?

KOENIGSBERGER: Look, I imply, I feel that’s an essential query as a result of I feel traditionally, you recognize, when developed markets get sick, growing markets have gotten to the hospital. And I feel that’s a giant a part of — you recognize, I’d say what’s occurred to rising markets in 2022 has been predominantly an exogenous shock coming from elevating charges all over the world.

That’s hasn’t all the time been the case in rising markets. You realize, we have now issues referred to as the tequila disaster, and the vodka disaster, and the caipirinha disaster, and the tango disaster. These have been endogenous crises created inside rising markets. However this one was — you recognize, it’s been about greater charges, much less liquidity in markets. In order that being stated, you recognize, I feel the Fed has been signaling slower pause on charges. After we take into consideration native charges in rising markets, you recognize, we felt that when the greenback power went away, that it is likely to be an excellent time to begin leaning into native charges inside rising markets.

You realize, we noticed — we have been in search of three issues. You realize, we have now a top-down each month, and we stated, if the 2s go to 450, if 10s go to 4, and the greenback DXY goes to 115, that’s a fairly good place to consider boarding the flight. So verify on 450, verify on 4, and we hit 114 in three quarters —

RITHOLTZ: Fairly shut.

KOENIGSBERGER: — about six weeks in the past. So you recognize, I feel over the previous couple months, that simply type of add period, although charges have been nonetheless predicted. And notably low greenback value funding grade securities the place you get lots of convexity, that in case you get a snapback like we had seen in charges, that you simply get to take pleasure in that experience again up.

RITHOLTZ: Some individuals have been trying on the sturdy greenback of the previous two quarters is only a wrecking ball, wreaking havoc all over the place. How do you set the power of King Greenback into context? And I may share some fascinating tales about among the loopy issues I’ve seen on my facet of the road. How does it affect rising markets when the greenback is as simply, you recognize, as highly effective because it’s been this yr?

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. And once more, inside rising markets, I feel it’s a dispersion of responses primarily based upon the place you might be. However I feel, you recognize, usually, greater charges, stronger greenback has been a headwind for rising markets. You realize, apparently, rising markets have had loads much less wiggle room than the Fed and the ECB and what have you ever. So fairly frankly, whether or not it’s Brazil or Colombia, what have you ever, they have been type of forward of the curve when it comes to elevating charges. And I feel that’s what made us bottoms-up a bit extra constructive on rising market currencies as soon as the greenback peaked. And once more, I feel maybe we noticed that at 114 in three quarters, you recognize, may return to 110 on DXY or what have you ever.


KOENIGSBERGER: Sorry. The U.S. Greenback Index.

RITHOLTZ: Received you.

KOENIGSBERGER: And you recognize, we have been speaking about potential holidays in Europe in the summertime, or what have you ever. And I feel, you recognize, with the euro at par and 100 earlier this yr —

RITHOLTZ: It’s wild.

KOENIGSBERGER: — it’s fairly good time to organize the resort.

RITHOLTZ: Yeah, completely. So let’s discuss some particular international locations. We already mentioned Russia. How do you take a look at locations in South America like Argentina and Venezuela, each of which appear to have a disaster virtually on an everyday schedule?

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. I imply, let’s begin with Argentina, and that may be a nation that has been fairly cyclical, and the returns have been fairly cyclical as nicely. You realize, for us, we’ve checked out Argentina rather more on an opportunistic foundation versus someplace that you simply need to be on a regular basis. You realize, in case you return, after we began our enterprise in 1998, ‘99, Argentina was 18% of the index. And we have been speaking earlier about —


KOENIGSBERGER: — about how dangerous indices may be, proper? So JPMorgan wished to step 18% of our portfolio in Russia, or pardon me, in Argentina, proper earlier than it defaulted. Quick ahead right this moment, you recognize, we have now an election developing in Argentina in October of 2023. We simply had a passing of the baton from Martin Guzman to Sergio Massa. I feel Massa is market-friendly sufficient. I feel he’s performed — you recognize, what he must do with the IMF, and we count on that Massa will have the ability to stabilize the markets earlier than they begin to climb the wall apprehensive going into the presidential elections in October 2023. So with, you recognize, property buying and selling at 20 cents —


KOENIGSBERGER: — performing property, now they carry out with very low coupons, however they’re performing. I can’t actually think about a debt restructuring situation within the subsequent regime that’s price 20 cents. I can think about buying and selling lower than due to illiquidity and air pockets of dislocation. However we’re beginning to focus extra on — we predict there’s a lightweight on the finish of the tunnel. We predict that’s maybe a change of regime and new authorities that is available in with markedly extra market-friendly insurance policies that the market will like.

RITHOLTZ: And Venezuela?

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. Venezuela is extra difficult. You realize, to begin with, it’s beneath restrictions right this moment, proper? So U.S. Treasury, the OFAC restrictions. So Venezuela is extra of a theoretical dialog. Now, we have been speaking about Russia and Ukraine earlier than, you recognize, it’s fascinating to notice that Chevron is again pumping oil. That’s a direct connection to Russia invading Ukraine. And I feel it was inside days, if not weeks, that the U.S. State Division was already in Caracas after the Russians had invaded.

RITHOLTZ: That means we’re out in search of oil wherever we are able to get it to offset curbing Russian exports all over the world?

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. I imply, take into consideration two photographs that got here out. The primary one was the fist bump with Biden and MBS, after which it was John Kerry shaking arms with Maduro. Proper? So look, Venezuela has lots of oil capability. You realize, I feel at their peak, they have been doing 3 million barrels a day. They’re most likely common 2.4 million barrels a day throughout the Chavez period. As we speak, they’re like 700,000 barrels. They might most likely ease (ph) that.

RITHOLTZ: That’s all? That’s unbelievable.

KOENIGSBERGER: That’s it. Properly, you recognize, the unhealthy information is that they haven’t had the CapEx. The excellent news is all of the property nonetheless beneath the bottom. So, you recognize, I feel there’s a risk of a thawing (ph). You realize, hopefully, they’ll take the trail of transferring in the direction of a extra democratic regime within the upcoming elections. And I feel the U.S. may reside with a regime the place the Chavistas win, the present authorities, if it’s perceived to be democratic or not less than extra democratic. And we’ve seen that traditionally in Latin America, you recognize, the place those that have been ostracized that got here in again by way of the democratic course of have been in a position to run.

RITHOLTZ: So I attempted desperately to keep away from being a macro vacationer. Nevertheless it seems like, man, if there’s ever a rustic that has immense upside, discuss asymmetrical dangers, what would it not take to make Venezuela actually investable and for them to change into a bit of extra built-in into the worldwide economic system? They’re doubtlessly so successful story if they may get out of their very own methods.

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. Keep in mind, return to the Seventies, the Concorde used to fly to Caracas —


KOENIGSBERGER: — simply to place it in perspective. And I feel you’re proper, I imply, they’d the biggest confirmed oil reserves on the planet.

RITHOLTZ: Not the biggest exterior of the Center East? The most important bar none.

KOENIGSBERGER: On this planet. Yeah.


KOENIGSBERGER: So greater than Saudi Arabia. So now we all know that, you recognize, Saudi Aramco has performed an IPO. It’s price a trillion {dollars}. You realize, may Petabase [ph] or Venny [ph] Aramco be price 1 / 4 of a billion {dollars}?


KOENIGSBERGER: It might be. 1 / 4 of a billion {dollars} will go lengthy methods to having the ability to create CapEx.

RITHOLTZ: Quarter of a billion quarter or quarter of a trillion?

KOENIGSBERGER: Quarter of a trillion. Excuse me.


KOENIGSBERGER: Quarter of a trillion. So there’s lots of potential there. And hopefully, you recognize, the — Chevron is step one in the direction of a thawing of relations between Venezuela and the West, the U.S. and that they are going to have the flexibility to purchase. It jogs my memory of Iraq, fairly frankly. So earlier than the Marines invaded Iraq, they have been doing about 1,000,000 barrels a day of manufacturing. As we speak, they’re doing 5 million.


KOENIGSBERGER: Their GDP was $25 billion a yr. It’s $250 billion a yr.

RITHOLTZ: 10x, that’s simply wonderful.

KOENIGSBERGER: And we are able to’t say that it’s as a result of it was such a politically secure place. Proper? So you recognize, we may think about at Venezuela on the opposite facet, the place the 700,000 barrels goes again to level —




KOENIGSBERGER: And that may make a distinction right this moment. It could make a distinction not solely to the market, however fairly frankly, the Venezuelan individuals who have suffered immensely beneath this administration and beneath the present contract (ph).

RITHOLTZ: So let’s speak a bit of bit about China. How do you method China? I take a look at fairness there, it’s primarily flat for the reason that early Nineties. For those who’re an outsider, it looks as if the Chinese language Central Celebration has taken all these positive aspects for themselves. Is China investable? How do you even method a rustic like that?

KOENIGSBERGER: So I feel after we take into consideration investability, one has to consider value, proper, preliminary circumstances. And so I’ll begin with, traditionally, in China, for a protracted time period, we’ve been massively underweight or no publicity as a result of it’s been uneven in your face. And what I imply by that’s we’re debt buyers, proper? So debt is a contract, proper? And the contracts that Chinese language firms had within the offshore was principally a bit of paper, no property, and also you needed to rely on the great religion and the willingness and talent of this company to pay you, after which to pay you. So first to make a dividend offshore and perhaps get China to approve that dividend, after which to pay you. So —

RITHOLTZ: That seems like a horrible setup for funding.

KOENIGSBERGER: It’s. Yeah. So for a debt investor interested by China at par, China company at par made no sense to us. Now, China property has gone from par, the homebuilders to — we talked about 8 cents, 10 cents, 5 cents. So now, you begin to consider choice worth. And after I take a look at the China property sector right this moment, it jogs my memory of lots of rising market corporates and sovereigns traditionally, the place one has to tease out — distressed isn’t one thing that’s simply cheaper than it was. It’s low cost relative to an end result that we predict that we are able to catalyze.

So after we take a look at an 8 cent safety, we’re not listening to from the corporate, we’re not going to pay you, and we’re not seeing insolvency. We’re seeing Bambi syndrome. We’re seeing individuals —

RITHOLTZ: Bambi Syndrome?

KOENIGSBERGER: Folks frozen within the headlight.

RITHOLTZ: Oh, obtained you.

KOENIGSBERGER: And I bear in mind one CFO in China, we’re speaking, I bear in mind they’re locked down, proper. And so this poor CFO is doing the convention name in his lavatory and the screensaver is his bathe display, proper. And so what you’re seeing is somebody who doesn’t know how you can do a debt restructuring. And I’ll simply, you recognize, return to, like, I bear in mind Argentina 2009 and assembly with the Finance Minister who not solely didn’t know, finance, however didn’t know how you can do a debt restructuring.

So after we take a look at China property at 5, 8, 10 cents right this moment, and we see these people who find themselves expressing willingness to restructure, however a lack of knowledge of how you can do it, the choice worth appears fairly low cost.

RITHOLTZ: That’s actually fairly intriguing. We talked earlier about Russia. I’ve all the time appeared askance at Russia as a result of there isn’t a respect for personal property, for contract rights, for rule of legislation. Do you might have the identical challenges in China, or are they a bit of extra westernized when it comes to in case you reduce a deal, they are going to honor it?

KOENIGSBERGER: Look, I imply, I don’t need to in giant generalities or stereotypes, however I feel we noticed the Chinese language authorities plank because it pertains to crucial sector, the property sector. And previous to the celebration congress, you recognize, in case you learn the danger in China was that they have been going to take all of it. The federal government, you recognize, they have been simply going to love, say, if we get you to the offshore bondholders, what have you ever, however I feel they blinked, proper? That is 25% of the GDP of the nation.


KOENIGSBERGER: Proper? So to simply assume you can have a Lehman second and simply, you recognize, allow them to go.

RITHOLTZ: What the hell.

KOENIGSBERGER: They tried that with Evergrande, fairly frankly. Like, let’s simply isolate —

RITHOLTZ: And it didn’t work.

KOENIGSBERGER: It didn’t work. So I feel it’s loads much less dangerous right this moment than it was eight weeks in the past as a result of we’ve seen the brand new authorities, that third, Xi has are available in. And we’ve seen that they type of blinked because it associated to this and there’s simply large help going into that sector. So does that imply I need to purchase a par safety in China anytime quickly? No. However will we get extra comfy at 10, 15, 20 cents with a Chinese language TARP, and CFOs and CEOs telling us that they need to restructure, they simply need to lengthen, they don’t need to wipe us out, they don’t need to equitize, they don’t need to toss the keys? I feel it’s a fairly good guess.

RITHOLTZ: What do you make on the — we’re recording this to start with of December. What do you make of the modifications within the COVID coverage over there? And what may that imply for his or her economic system and their debt points?

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. I imply, so there’s a social aspect to that response, which is, you recognize, you possibly can see that the inhabitants has been fed up. I imply, I am going again to, you recognize, my youngsters thought three months have been locked up in the home within the second quarter of 2020 was the worst factor ever occurred. I imply, this has been occurring China for almost three years. So you might have giant numbers of individuals which were very sad.

And I’m not shocked, once more, to see after the celebration congress, them tuck or pivot, which is everyone’s favourite phrase nowadays, and begin to open up the economic system. I’ll take that again to, you recognize, I feel that’s going to create extra — what occurred right here, proper, we had the large closure, after which we had the reopening. And the reopening was gradual and spotty. And now, we’re seeing that the calls for are there and we’re having problem with provide facet. I’d count on one thing comparable in China, however I feel demand for housing goes to be there. The help is there, and that’s a significant a part of their economic system.

RITHOLTZ: Actually fairly fascinating. So let’s speak a bit of bit about market effectivity and debt. It appears that evidently EM is extra difficult, much less clear, much less environment friendly than developed markets. Is that a part of the supply from whence alpha is derived?

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah, for certain. I imply, I feel the data asymmetry signifies that in case you can arrange yourselves so as to have the ability to seize info, and once more, that’s exterior the agency and contained in the agency. You realize, we talked a bit of bit about having platforms that may suck up that info from the areas. But in addition the way in which that we’re organized as an funding group, 4 completely different technique teams, all collaborating, all assembly each morning, all sitting on an funding committee, sharing like what’s occurring in public debt issues to personal debt.

You realize, we talked about Venezuela earlier. Like, what are particular conditions group is aware of about litigation, litigation finance in Venezuela and OFAC restrictions was serving to our long-only rising market debt group take into consideration what it meant for Russia, when these issues got here on. So lots of alternatives in the way in which that we’re organized to have the ability to create alpha.

You realize, the opposite solution to choose — to essentially create alpha and reap the benefits of the data asymmetry is thru the dynamic asset allocation that we talked about. You realize, my pet peeve is an investor who picks a return stream for 10 years. And also you talked about earlier than that, you recognize, in equities, you could possibly argue the Chinese language equities, no matter it might be, that, you recognize, perhaps it’s been lackluster returns. Properly, in case you keep on with one thing, whether or not it trades at 150 or 200, you’re simply going to get the typical, you recognize. However in case you’re in a position to transfer round between worth and relative worth, I feel there’s a solution to reap the benefits of the data asymmetry and create alpha.

RITHOLTZ: One of many issues I’ve all the time questioned in regards to the distinction between rising market and frontier markets, at first, do you take a look at frontier markets? And second, how do you actually distinguish between the 2?

KOENIGSBERGER: We actually try to put the labels apart, and frontier market is a little more of an fairness label than a debt label to start with. That being stated, I’d say that, you recognize, most any nation that was frontier, we have now invested in, traded and traveled sooner or later in our careers. And issues usually go from frontier to rising markets, typically they return. We’re rather more keen on type of the bottoms-up evaluation and what it means. However, you recognize, Bulgaria was frontier in ’93, ’94. It turned funding grade shortly thereafter. Poland was, you recognize, identical factor, it was frontier. So for us within the debt facet, it doesn’t actually matter. Some frontiers have lots of debt; some don’t have any debt.

RITHOLTZ: How do you concentrate on China? Are they nonetheless an rising market, or have they emerged?

KOENIGSBERGER: Once more, I feel it depends upon the way you outline rising markets. You realize, within the textbook, you recognize, per capita GDP, it’s actually nonetheless categorized as an rising market nation.

RITHOLTZ: Second largest economic system on the planet, are they actually an rising market anymore?

KOENIGSBERGER: Precisely. And once more, it depends upon whether or not you’re speaking about from a political financial perspective, from a GDP perspective. However, you recognize, it’s actually laborious to simply examine it to all different rising markets. And as you recognize, on the fairness facet, not solely is it — you recognize, it’s such a giant part of the Rising Market Index, proper? It’s like once you purchase —


KOENIGSBERGER: Whenever you purchase the EM fairness index, you’re principally shopping for China and some others. I’m undecided that makes lots of sense going ahead.

RITHOLTZ: No, I couldn’t agree extra. Let’s speak a bit of bit about your group. The chairman of Gramercy s the previous CEO of PIMCO, Mohamed El-Erian. What’s it wish to work with him every single day? How did he find yourself as Chairman of Gramercy?

KOENIGSBERGER: Look, it’s been phenomenal. Mohamed began with us as an investor first. And as he obtained to know us, he type of leaned in and met the group. And we had a dialog about him serving to us take into consideration how will we institutionalize the top-down? How will we — you recognize, we’ve been very a lot a bottoms-up stock-picking store and credit score, if you’ll, credit-picking store. And we wished to ensure that we had an excellent institutional framework.

And fairly frankly, myself because the CIO, I lack the arrogance to go to different portfolio managers and say, look, my view is so sturdy and so proper that you must get out of that nation or what have you ever. So now, with, you recognize, Mohamed moved from an investor to an investor that was an advisor, he helped us actually institutionalize the top-down. After which when COVID hit, he realized, you recognize what, I can have an actual affect on the enterprise. I don’t must be there every single day —


KOENIGSBERGER: — proper, in particular person. I may be there every single day on Zoom. And so he’s with us most each morning on our day by day name. We’ve this top-down name, and —

RITHOLTZ: Full credit score to him, he’s been a complete lot extra proper than flawed on every part from rising markets to inflation, to charges. He appears to be on a scorching streak nowadays.

KOENIGSBERGER: Look, he is an excellent top-down decoder. He’s an investor, proper? Quite a lot of economists can speak to speak, however they’ll’t essentially stroll to stroll when it comes —

RITHOLTZ: They’re academicians not — they’re not placing cash in danger.

KOENIGSBERGER: So he’s good as a top-down decoder. He understands the funding implications of what he’s simply decoded, and he shares a ardour for rising markets with us. So it’s an ideal match. And to your level, he was nicely forward of the curve on COVID. Like, I didn’t know what — he stated to me in the future, like, you recognize, this can be a sudden cease and you’ll’t have a sudden begin.

RITHOLTZ: Lifeless on.

KOENIGSBERGER: I by no means actually thought of that, proper?


KOENIGSBERGER: What are the implications of a sudden cease and a gradual begin? Provide bottlenecks, proper?

RITHOLTZ: Nonetheless ready for semiconductors to get to new vehicles, so individuals couldn’t —


RITHOLTZ: — order one thing and never wait 18 months.

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. And you recognize, I feel he’s nicely forward of the curve on inflation, proper. And so it’s been nice. He’s given us lots of confidence on the top-down. You realize, what I feel differentiates us is we are able to take the top-down, and he has actually helped us institutionalize and marry it with our sturdy bottoms-up and have the ability to differentiate. And you recognize, lastly, he’s simply change into a fantastic buddy.

RITHOLTZ: Yeah, he’s actually an enchanting, charming gentleman. I’m a giant fan. Earlier than I get to my favourite questions, let me throw a curveball at you a bit of bit. Inform us about Turkey. What’s your relationship to the nation? How usually are you there?

KOENIGSBERGER: So Turkey is a spot — my spouse is Turkish. We’ve been married for nearly 30 years now, so I’ve been touring to Turkey for that lengthy. My daughters each converse Turkish. So we spent lots of time there within the summers. And so, you recognize, it’s —

RITHOLTZ: Wait. Within the summers, you imply each summer season for the previous 30 years?

KOENIGSBERGER: Just about each summer season for the final 30 years. We wished our daughters to be taught Turkish, so we obtained an condo there. Each summer season, we love going to the seaside down there, down — and Bodrum is like stunning water.

RITHOLTZ: Is that the Mediterranean or the Asian?

KOENIGSBERGER: It’s on the Aegean facet.

RITHOLTZ: In order that’s spectacular over there.

KOENIGSBERGER: Stunning water, stunning — and nice individuals, nice hospitality, superior meals. So you recognize, actually loved it.

RITHOLTZ: Signal me up. Wow.

KOENIGSBERGER: And you recognize, it’s change into an essential a part of our enterprise over time too, as a result of I spent a lot time there. Though I’m a Latin Americanist by coaching, I’ve change into very comfy in Turkey as nicely.

RITHOLTZ: Actually very fascinating. Let’s bounce to our favourite questions that we ask all our visitors. And I’m going to must retire this query certainly one of nowadays, now that we’re largely reopened, however throughout the lockdown, inform us what you have been doing to remain entertained? What have been you streaming after we have been all caught in the home?

KOENIGSBERGER: So we have been simply speaking about Turkey. And Netflix occurs to have a fantastic catalogue of Turkish exhibits.

RITHOLTZ: Actually? In order that they’re in Turkish with English subtitles, actually, actually good plots and drama and what have you ever. So it gave me the flexibility to be taught Turkish language, but additionally be taught Turkish tradition, and be actually entertained within the course of.

RITHOLTZ: Give us the identify of the present.

KOENIGSBERGER: One among them that I simply completed is named Atiye in Turkish —


KOENIGSBERGER: — which suggests the present. And it has a little bit of — I take into consideration 24 episodes and it’s about type of archaeology in Turkey and actually fascinating, actually good actors, actually good scripts, and actually good cinematography.

RITHOLTZ: Sounds fascinating. Inform us about a few of your early mentors who helped form your profession.

KOENIGSBERGER: So when it comes to mentors, I discussed my first boss Carlos Rodriguez-Pastor, the boutique I labored with in California.

RITHOLTZ: What was the identify of the boutique?

KOENIGSBERGER: CRP Associates, for his initials. And I used to be very lucky to work with Carlos. It was a really small boutique, spent lots of time with him on a one-on-one foundation. He had a fantastic thoughts. He understood the intersection of politics and markets. You realize, English was a second language, however I feel he taught me English when it comes to written English and Enterprise English and what have you ever.

And I’d say the opposite one, fairly frankly, was my stepfather who was a pilot for United Airways for 35 years. And you recognize, he had this guidelines mentality, which appears to be like loads like danger administration, proper? Like, all the time interested by what can go flawed and how you can keep away from the catastrophic mistake and the non-recoverable mistake. And so I put these two collectively and say they have been nice mentors.

RITHOLTZ: I like the concept of checklists. It’s pilots and surgeons need to ensure that there aren’t these foolish little errors. It’s avoiding mistake is extra essential than hitting the bullseye.

KOENIGSBERGER: And perhaps pilots greater than surgeons as a result of they’re on a airplane.

RITHOLTZ: That’s a distinction of pilot. When a surgeon loses a affected person, they’re unhappy. When a pilot loses a airplane, he’s lifeless.


RITHOLTZ: So it’s a really completely different factor. Inform us about a few of your favourite books. What are you studying proper now?

KOENIGSBERGER: I imply, again to Turkey, you recognize, we’ve obtained an election developing in Turkey this yr as nicely. So I’ve been performing some studying on Turkey and one specifically, it’s a e book referred to as Turkey Underneath Erdogan. And it type of simply provides you a way of what Turkey has been like over the past 20 years with Erdogan and perhaps take into consideration among the components which may affect the potential regime change in Turkey later this yr.

RITHOLTZ: And what are the percentages of that regime change taking place?

KOENIGSBERGER: You realize, they modify every single day. And everyone knows that polls aren’t as dependable as they —

RITHOLTZ: Positive.

KOENIGSBERGER: — by no means have been. However after I was in Turkey this summer season, I’d have informed you that the percentages for him profitable have been fairly low. And that’s as a result of if he spoke with — you recognize, there’s a little bit of a distress index, you recognize, older, retired those that have been getting squeezed by excessive inflation and the foreign money devaluation, however then additionally younger youngsters, proper, that simply felt type of hopeless. And so after I left there in August, I’m like, it’s going to be actually tough for him to win.

RITHOLTZ: And now?

KOENIGSBERGER: We have been there — you recognize, I had a group there two weeks in the past. You realize, their name, it’s like 50/50.


KOENIGSBERGER: And I feel, you recognize, there’s an actual dispersion of outcomes that would come from whether or not he stays or goes, how he stays, how he goes. So it’s been fascinating to learn on that. After which, in fact, I wish to David Rubenstein books, the interviews, you recognize, with the buyers and management.

RITHOLTZ: Yeah. He’s an enchanting man as nicely. So these are the 2 books you simply completed most just lately?


RITHOLTZ: What kind of recommendation would you give to a latest school grad who’s keen on a profession in rising markets, opportunistic or distressed debt?

KOENIGSBERGER: What’s humorous within the post-COVID period, I’d begin with saying that presence issues, and that they need to go to the workplace. And there’s lots of younger youngsters who, you recognize, simply assume they’re as environment friendly at dwelling, as productive at dwelling. However they neglect that, you recognize, God invented buying and selling desk for a cause. There are open architectures. There’s info flowing, and it’s nice coaching and nice mentorship. So one, I’d say go to the workplace.

And two, I’d say, you recognize, try to make your profession extra linear and style, and logical. I see lots of younger youngsters right this moment, it’s like, nicely, I’m going to strive funding banking, and I’m going to strive tech, you recognize, no matter is scorching. However in case you’re actually keen on rising markets, or no matter it might be, then follow it and evolve round that asset class, however don’t hop round.

And the very last thing I’d say with younger youngsters right this moment is we don’t actually care the place your diploma is from. We don’t care about pedigree. We care about who you might be, what you’ve performed, and the way you complement the group. You don’t must emulate the group. You may be completely different. And with variety comes, you recognize, higher outcomes. So don’t simply try to be like everyone else.

RITHOLTZ: And our remaining query, what are you aware in regards to the world of rising markets, distressed debt, and investing right this moment that you simply want you knew 30 years or so in the past, once you have been actually first getting your legs on to you?

KOENIGSBERGER: So after I left Lehman in early 1998, you recognize, once you began in funding administration in rising market debt, you recognize, it was principally you probably did a hedge fund and you probably did a credit score hedge fund, and that’s what we did. You realize, if I may return to 1999 right this moment, after we began Gramercy, I feel actual lengthy and laborious about perhaps we need to do personal fairness constructions versus hedge fund constructions, have lengthy -locked capital versus short-locked capital, and have the opportunity to consider multiples of capital over the lengthy interval versus volatility and IRR within the quick run.

RITHOLTZ: That means pressure the purchasers to be long term buyers than —

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. And I don’t need to use pressure, however associate with the purchasers in automobiles which can be extra — you recognize, over time, even in our credit score automobiles, we’re having longer-locked automobiles that permits one, you recognize, in case you’re going to make an asset-backed mortgage and capital options, you possibly can’t give 90-day liquidity, proper?


KOENIGSBERGER: So it’s obtained to be extra like a quasi-PE construction, the place you make a mortgage, you might have three years to make the mortgage. You’ve got three years to get it again, after which return the capital in six or seven years. That makes much more sense than, you recognize, how do you construct a portfolio not realizing whether or not that portfolio goes to nonetheless be with you in 30 days.


KOENIGSBERGER: That’s difficult.

RITHOLTZ: Hey, it ain’t referred to as the illiquidity premium for nothing, proper? The entire concept of tying up capital for X variety of years means the quick time period both gates or liquidity calls for aren’t related to the funding thesis.

KOENIGSBERGER: However, you recognize, the illiquidity premium in rising market debt, it’s a extremely essential idea as a result of I see CIOs, pension funds, no matter it might be, and so they’re like, we’re going to be 3%, 6% rising market debt eternally. That’s our asset allocation. However they stick in liquid in quotations “T plus 3,” you recognize, get your a refund in three days. And I’ll return to the Mexico instance. You realize, a yr in the past, you could possibly get 3% for a safety for Pemex, or we may lend to Pemex provider at 15%.


KOENIGSBERGER: And it wasn’t that illiquid, it was 9 to 12 months. So in case you’re going to be there for 10, why not choose up that further 1,000-plus foundation factors?

RITHOLTZ: That sounds prefer it’s price it. Thanks, Robert, for being so beneficiant along with your time. We’ve been talking with Robert Koenigsberger. He’s the chief funding officer and managing associate at Gramercy Funds Administration.

For those who take pleasure in this dialog, nicely, remember to try any of our prior 450 interviews. You will discover these at iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, wherever you get your favourite podcasts from. Join my day by day reads at You’ll be able to observe me on Twitter @ritholtz. I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the crack group that helps put these conversations collectively every week. Justin Milner is my audio engineer. Paris Wald is my producer. Sean Russo is my head of Analysis. Atika Valbrun is my undertaking supervisor.

I’m Barry Ritholtz. You’ve been listening to Masters in Enterprise on Bloomberg Radio.




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