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Passport Capital’s John Burbank is one of the better macro thinkers out there today.  In a recent client letter (via Distressed Debt Investing) he described what he believes are the greatest risks in the markets today.  He says:

“Given these concerns, we believe markets are mispricing risk.   We believe it is prudent to maintain a sizable store of cash, and we will allocate it when opportunities appear more compelling.  Cash is most valuable when other don’t have it.  “

The 11 risks he’s currently concerned about:

1.  Equity volumes continue to decline

2.  May was the first month since the first quarter 2009 in which less liquid equities declined

3.  We perceive a certain degree of investor crowding in pursuit of short-term returns in an environment of compressed risk premiums

4.  Given an environment dominated by beta factors, we believe investors are utilizing ETF’s over individual stocks for hedging, further reducing idiosyncratic stock liquidity – particularly for names not weighted in the ETFs

5.  The data we receive from prime brokers suggest hedge fund net exposures remain high (net exposures in the 50% range are only slightly off 2007 highs), and mutual fund cash levels remain low

6.  The longer China’s tightening cycle persists, we believe, the greater the risk of a hard landing

7.  Inflation has so far defied many emerging markets’ tightening cycles

8.  We believe the coincidence of Europe’s intensifying sovereign debt crisis and the European Central Bank’s audacious interest rate increases puts economic stability at risk

9.  In the US, Dodd Frank uncertainties and the utter lack of mortgage foreclosure progress have left financial institutions with significant illiquid, stranded and overvalued assets

10.  US government spending should fall and tax collection should rise to some extent; these necessary steps will be very negative for growth

11.  The 2012 end of the ontime tax-deductibility of corporate capex creates yet another demand “air pocket” in the wake of yet another failed attempt to use policy to pull forward future demand in hopes of catalyzing genuine expansion

Source: Passport Capital

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