Transcript: Robert Koenigsberger – The Huge Image




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

You may stream and obtain our full dialog, together with any podcast extras, on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, YouTube, and Bloomberg. All of our earlier podcasts in your favourite pod hosts will be discovered right here.


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 a captivating 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.

When you’re involved in what it’s like investing in rising market debt, how that a part of the funding agency has modified over the a long time 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 had been out of Russia lengthy earlier than the latest invasion of Ukraine occurred.

It’s simply a captivating dialog about wanting on the world from each bottoms up and top-down, in addition to excited about what valuations are like, how probably are macro occasions, the affect you’re getting not simply the return on capital, however as famously mentioned in mounted revenue, 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 some great 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 in all probability the remainder of your portfolio. I discovered it fascinating, and I believe additionally, you will.

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

Let’s discuss a bit 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 like you had been constructed to commerce distressed EM debt.

ROBERT KOENIGSBERGER, FOUNDER, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, MANAGING PARTNER. GRAMERCY: Inbuilt and fortunate, fairly frankly, you already know, truly return to undergrad the place I did political science and historical past of Latin America, and I used to be requested to do the same thesis on — or to do a thesis. And my dad and mom informed me I needed to discover a job on the similar time. And so I attempted to place the thesis and the job search collectively. And the one concern in Latin America, which was my main again in ’86, ‘87 was the Latin American debt disaster.

RITHOLTZ: Positive.

KOENIGSBERGER: So I did my research on that, and I bought lucky sufficient to fulfill 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 already know, 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 believe it’s honest to say it was a little bit of the Wild West. You already know, return — your entire — you already know, it was the misplaced decade, proper? The Nineteen Eighties was the misplaced decade in Latin America. Mexico defaults in ’8. Nearly, your entire area is in default by the top of the last decade. So what it was like was, you already know, 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 known as 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 keep in mind, you already know, even like we had been doing — you’d have international locations that with shared borders that couldn’t discuss to one another, that one or the opposite, and you could possibly get within the center and do some kind of debt swap, or a buyback or what have you ever. And so one in every of my fond recollections was, like, Guatemala, I believe it was a 1989 and I didn’t know what FX was. I didn’t know what letters of credit score had 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 bought paid in quetzales, which was the native foreign money. And so my job for mainly two weeks was to stand up, go promote as a lot FX or purchase as many {dollars} as I might, after which return to the lodge and sit by the pool.

RITHOLTZ: That’s not a nasty 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 sort of are conversant in from the monetary disaster. What was it like at these massive outlets, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers, doing distressed EM debt?

KOENIGSBERGER: Positive. I imply, to start with, they had been nice experiences as a result of, you already know, I began at a really small boutique setting. And once more, I’m Political Science and Historical past main previous to graduate college, in order that I truly get skilled in finance. To guide the financial institution’s efforts in investing in sovereign debt restructurings and to deliver our shoppers alongside was an important expertise. And I bought to study rather a lot about how markets operate or not. And I bought to get his really feel for Wall Avenue politics, which I came upon actually weren’t for me and all of the conflicts of curiosity that one finds in Wall Avenue.

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

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

RITHOLTZ: Break it down.

KOENIGSBERGER: — you already know, after I bought to Merrill in 1995, and also you seemed on the commerce blotter of who you had been buying and selling with, it was mainly banks buying and selling with one another. And occasionally, a shopper would come by. So there was an incredible quantity of proprietary buying and selling, you already know, hedge funds within the again e-book, a bit little bit of a entrance e-book. So I might characterize it as little bit of a weird and fewer of a market as a result of, you already know, after I was at Merrill and I might name JPMorgan and I might promote one thing to them. And they might 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 bought caught with it.

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. And so, you already know, tended to have a — create a variety of volatility, you already know, if everybody needed to purchase or promote the identical factor on the similar time. Immediately, the market is massively bigger. You already know, 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 speak about quasi-sovereign and sovereign adjoining.


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


KOENIGSBERGER: Quasi-sovereign is usually an entity owned by the state that concern —

RITHOLTZ: Like a GSE or something like that.

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

RITHOLTZ: Bought it.

KOENIGSBERGER: After which sovereign adjoining are fascinating as effectively, as a result of they’re not explicitly owned by the state, however they’re so essential that there’s some kind of nexus between the sovereign and that company. However you already know, immediately, the markets — you already know, take into consideration now, there’s a purchase aspect, ETFs, ‘40 Acts. The purchase aspect is a lot bigger than the road. It was simply the road. Avenue had a variety of stability sheet.

Immediately, in case you take rising market corporates for instance, there’s — return 5 years, 10 years, rising market corporates are 5 occasions bigger immediately than they had been again then. Return proper after 2008, each financial institution made markets. Each financial institution had stability sheet. Immediately, you may have much less banks, much less stability sheet, much less market-making, and a extremely massive purchase aspect. So you may have inelastic provide when folks need to purchase. Like, you probably have $1, there’ll be somebody in rising markets that desires to concern 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 discovered through the monetary disaster, the government-sponsored enterprises like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and by extension, Sallie Mae, you go down the entire record of these items, the U.S. authorities’s Full Religion and Credit score, despite the fact that 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 may have comparable conditions in Latin America and elsewhere? Or is it simply nation by nation? It’s all fully completely different.

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

RITHOLTZ: Positive.

KOENIGSBERGER: So it began as a disaster for Evergrande, proper? And I believe the Chinese language authorities needed to sort of isolate Evergrande after which insulate the remainder of the sector. And now, what we’ve seen is that it contaminated — you already know, 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 social gathering congress, we’ve simply seen huge quantities of support. I might argue that what we’re witnessing immediately is the TARP Program in China for the property sector. And you may see, you already know, property have gone. We had 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 possibly it’s bought 4 factors of curiosity on an 8 cent bond, that usually when one thing trades at 8, folks 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, abruptly 8 cent bonds had been buying and selling at 32. This morning, they’re like 60.


KOENIGSBERGER: Simply on this bailout notion.

RITHOLTZ: How can we get me a few of these? That sounds very engaging.

KOENIGSBERGER: And we’ll discuss 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 current, memorable. Something from the Wild West days that stands out as — I imply, I like the thought 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 already know, margaritas or no matter they the native drink was. What else actually stands out?

KOENIGSBERGER: You already know, if I am going again to the late ‘80s or early ‘90s, and you already know, you’re asking about distressed then versus distressed immediately. You already know, I believe one of the vital fascinating issues in distressed is when individuals are throwing away the keys, you need to be there to catch them. And I keep in mind one time in — I believe was ‘89 or ’90, we’re proper on the finish of the, you already know, the misplaced decade in rising markets and all of the banks are mainly — not all of the banks, however a couple of the banks had been like simply getting out of Latin America. And one in every of them —

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

KOENIGSBERGER: That’s proper. So one instance that was a variety of enjoyable, I believe, was ‘89 or ’90. Financial institution of America determined they needed to promote their department in Lima, Peru, and the value tag was one million {dollars}. I’m like 25 years outdated. 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 outdated. 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 massive 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 bought to run again to the lodge and I mentioned, you already know, Carlos, is the constructing included? He mentioned sure. I mentioned it’s bought to be value one million bucks.


KOENIGSBERGER: Proper? So we paid one million {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 immediately. And so quick ahead after graduate college, I’m having lunch with a pal from college. And Eric says — he’s working for Financial institution of America, and I mentioned, Eric, effectively, 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 already know, Russia has been a lot within the information as of late.

RITHOLTZ: Positive.

KOENIGSBERGER: And I keep in mind the Wild Wild West in Russia was the Yeltsin period, the ‘90s, the period of default. And I keep in mind going there with a gaggle of buyers in — I believe 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 fully raveled, and he goes, I need to know who’s shopping for again my debt. You guys are getting in my manner. I’m attempting to purchase again my debt, best 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 lodge to see who can name their buying and selling desk quick sufficient to purchase Russia. And in case you look in your Bloomberg display immediately, 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 already know, that’s oftentimes what I discuss with shoppers about as a result of, you already know, in case you return to the Nineteen 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 excited about 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 believe that was actually the start of rising markets debt as an asset class.

RITHOLTZ: Fairly fascinating. So let’s discuss a bit bit about Gramercy, what led you from massive outlets to launching your individual agency? And had been you at all times worldwide debt centered?

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah, a couple of issues. I imply, I began in a boutique setting, and I by no means actually thought that I used to be going to remain on Wall Avenue for an extended time frame. I at all times needed to do one thing entrepreneurial. Clearly, I needed to remain invested and have a profession in rising market debt. However — so you already know, the components behind beginning Gramercy had been a couple of.

One, you already know, I discussed battle of curiosity on Wall Avenue. And when you find yourself 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 keep in mind on the banks, you already know, on my sides could be somebody from funding banking, somebody from company relations, and so I’m simply pushing to get the financial institution and our shoppers paid. And these guys are excited about the subsequent —


KOENIGSBERGER: — the subsequent commerce in Russia or no matter it might be. So one is, you already know, I actually needed to have a conflict-free, mission-driven agency. And our mission is de facto easy. All we do is concentrate on an funding administration. We need to concentrate on the well-being of our shoppers, our portfolio investments of their communities, and our workforce members. That’s it. And that’s arduous to do in a giant, massive store on Wall Avenue.

You already know, clearly, eat what you kill. I needed a meritocracy. And Wall Avenue is, fairly frankly, something however a meritocracy due to all of the politics and what have you ever. I keep 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 nearly blew up in Mexico in 1995.


KOENIGSBERGER: We had been mainly — 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 shoppers that needed publicity?

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. And don’t take a variety 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, effectively, we nearly made it, proper? So that they had been attempting to — attempt to mainly say, because you didn’t get to the 40, you already know, it’s best to count on to receives a commission very effectively.

So I mentioned, effectively, wait a minute, simply cease proper right here. This dialog is over. I’ll come again tomorrow. You set a distinct quantity on the piece of paper, and that was the second that I made a decision I needed to begin the agency. And, you already know, we’re purely there for our shoppers. And if our shoppers do effectively, we do effectively. 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 Avenue is stunning. You simply see all of those tremendous worthwhile companies with essentially the most profitable merchants. I’m genuinely shocked when folks say, yeah, then it’s simply not value it.

KOENIGSBERGER: I’ll let you know one other story. I keep in mind after I left Merrill Lynch, so Fed began elevating charges in ’94. We’ve bought the tequila disaster in Mexico. And I resigned, and my boss is Venezuelan and the large boss is Cuban. And the Venezuelan mentioned, effectively, you bought to go discuss 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 Turkish too. My spouse is Turkish as effectively. However — so I am going upstairs and meet with the large boss and so they begin chatting in Spanish. And so they go, you already know, you informed me that there have been no different jobs on the market, that we didn’t need to pay this value. Proper? So then he turns to me goes, Robert, you already know, what can I let you know? And I answered him again in Spanish, I mentioned I simply heard every thing. Thanks very a lot.

RITHOLTZ: By the best way, how are you going to do rising market debt? I imply, I do know everyone in every single place kind of 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, a variety of locations we go, English isn’t essentially spoken effectively, 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 effectively in Spanish as I do in English. However that’s very useful too.

You already know, rising market is all about assessing folks, proper? So we’ve got to consider credit score danger like everyone else. However on the finish of the day, rising markets danger is about credit score tradition, folks, how do they behave in occasions of duress up 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 aspect, some folks say you don’t really want boots on the bottom in rising markets. I don’t know the way true that’s, nevertheless it actually sounds prefer it’s not true on the debt or credit score aspect, particularly a distressed circumstance.

KOENIGSBERGER: Now, I imply, boots on the bottom are important, and I might say each inside boots and exterior boots, proper. So we’ve got our personal folks. We’ve got our personal platforms. We’ve got places of work in Argentina, and Turkey, and Mexico and what have you ever. And people individuals are actually essential for sourcing offers, doing due diligence on offers, doing due diligence on folks. You already know, fairly frankly, one in every of our greatest strengths is on our web site. It’s all of the relationships we’ve had for 35 years with folks in several international locations that may give you good info on folks.

You already know, I keep in mind a narrative in Thailand a couple of years in the past. We had been on the brink of purchase the debt of a rustic — of an organization that had come out of debt restructuring. And you already know, our analysis guys did their work. The merchants did the work. We appreciated the worth. We appreciated the entry level. Nicely, 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 mentioned, nice. So it was a patriarch, former army man, had the discussions at his home, not a legislation agency. You had 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 need to have folks on the bottom to choose. That’s simply unhealthy.

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

KOENIGSBERGER: I imply, I believe it was a delicate menace. And once more, you already know, I wouldn’t —

RITHOLTZ: Or not so delicate.

KOENIGSBERGER: I wouldn’t make that blanket assertion, you already know, all through rising markets. However fairly frankly, you already know, after I see some child of their 20s or 30s, begin a enterprise. And you already know, there are three or 4 folks round their Bloomberg screens, and so they don’t have the inner 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 may have places of work world wide, proper? What international locations do you may have places of work at?

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

And so what we’re attempting 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 may’t actually scale it. However you probably have a platform of devoted folks to that and the controls, it provides you the flexibility to depth and breadth in Mexico to take a look at different industries, now possibly we will 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 believe I do know the reply to this, however I’ve to ask, you might be long-only. And I might think about there are all types of alternatives on the quick aspect the place you may 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’ve got 4 main technique teams inside the agency. Certainly one of them is long-only, and we do, you already know, 4 subsets there. The opposite is options, the place we will 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 already know, in long-only, the one manner you may categorical a detrimental view is to not have any publicity.

RITHOLTZ: Sit in your fingers, proper?

KOENIGSBERGER: However after we begin excited about our different group, we will take into consideration relative worth, we will take into consideration lengthy/quick. We will take into consideration doing issues with derivatives that offer you sort of, you already know, 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 a variety of litigation finance.

RITHOLTZ: Oh, actually?

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

RITHOLTZ: Positive.

KOENIGSBERGER: Proper? Nicely, we will truly hedge that. We will truly purchase insurance coverage, proper? There’s insurance coverage corporations that can, you already know, give you insurance coverage for possibly, you already know, if it’s a $800 million declare, and you should purchase insurance coverage for $10 million to insure the $10 million litigation, and it prices you $3 million, that’s fairly good asymmetry by way of —


KOENIGSBERGER: — you already know, 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 already know, simply I’m making a directional guess that nation X’s debt goes to get minimize in half.

KOENIGSBERGER: That’s proper. And look, there’s two other ways to do it. In long-only, and it’s dangerous to do it long-only, proper? And so it looks like long-only is the much less dangerous. You already know, you’re going up in opposition to an index. And oftentimes, these indices have very dangerous proxies in them. I imply, let’s speak about Russia and Ukraine concern, proper?

RITHOLTZ: Positive.

KOENIGSBERGER: So we — you already know, we had the great fortune to haven’t any Russia or no Ukraine in February of 2022. Our analysts walked in January and mentioned, I believe there’s a 50% likelihood that there’ll be some kind of invasion, and the property will drop a bit. Like, effectively, 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. But it surely 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’ve got zero publicity. So despite the fact that, you already know, you may’t quick it, while you don’t personal an index, you truly — it’s not riskless, proper? In our options, you already know, extra conventional hedge funds, to your level, we will do alpha shorts. We will say and look, we had been lengthy safety in opposition to Russia in February twenty fourth. That was an alpha guess for us. It was like, you already know what, we predict Russia has uneven draw back and we will categorical that in that automobile.

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

KOENIGSBERGER: It labored out fairly effectively.

RITHOLTZ: So let’s keep on with Russia for a second. You already know, I seemed 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 turn into investable once more? It looks like they’re not, they haven’t been for some time earlier than the invasion. It’s arduous to think about anybody wanting to place up a variety of danger capital with them.

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. I believe you have 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 therefore lengthy, proper? You then bought to return to the Yeltsin period, and I’ve learn and heard so many occasions that, you already know, if Putin simply leaves, every thing will probably be fantastic, proper? However I do not know what’s behind Putin and Russia.


KOENIGSBERGER: And I keep in mind being in Russia within the late ‘90s and you already know, I might get a name in the midst of the evening, say, Yeltsin is within the hospital, and also you’d need to 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 immediately, it’s like, you already know, if Putin weren’t right here tomorrow, I can’t let you know what the politics appear to be there. And in addition, how is Russia going to be handled on the opposite aspect of this? Proper? Is it going to be handled like Germany after World Conflict I or Germany after World Conflict II?


KOENIGSBERGER: Proper? You already know, will or not it’s embraced and that, you already know, Putin was a nasty man who led good folks astray, and let’s have some kind of reconstruction of Ukraine and Russia?


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

RITHOLTZ: Actually fairly fascinating. Let’s discuss a bit bit concerning the state of EM immediately. Valuations, a minimum of on the fairness aspect, they’re the most cost effective we’ve seen in a few a long time. What do you see while you’re wanting on the debt and credit score aspect of rising markets?

KOENIGSBERGER: One thing comparable, and you already know, I believe what we’ve got noticed, and once more, we’re all credit score not fairness, however over the previous 25 years that we’ve been collectively for a workforce, 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 immediately. And so they all have sort of seemed 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 sort of top-down historic framework, it’s simple to see that there’s low-cost valuations in rising markets. However you already know, we even have to consider the place we got here from, you already know, like actually low rates of interest, lull liquidity, what have you ever.


KOENIGSBERGER: So we additionally need to show out with the portfolios that we construct, that the identical forms of anticipated returns are there. And you already know, one of many stunning issues about mounted revenue versus fairness is we’ve got contractual coupons. And so in case you can decide good credit that pay their coupons, that roll down the curve to par, the arithmetic work, proper? That’s why after these massive dislocations, in case you can decide a subset of credit score that has coupon, will preserve paying, and roll down the curve in the direction of par, you then’re going to get these kind of extraordinary returns. And I believe we’re in that sort of setting immediately.

Now, in fact, there’s a variety of volatility and I believe one must be, you already know, respectful of that volatility immediately. However, you already know, 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 forms of debt, be it performing or distressed equities and different asset courses? It feels like this can be a pretty non-correlated group of investments.

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. And I believe you may create lack of correlation, dependent about the way you assemble the portfolio. I imply, I believe in case you decide 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’ve got, we sort 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 already know, sooner or later 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 may 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 keep in mind like 2020, throughout COVID, and you already know, 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 keep in mind, we talked about this. We didn’t know what was going to interrupt the camel’s again.


KOENIGSBERGER: But it surely’s damaged. And these — we count on a — we aren’t positive if it’s going to be a V-shaped restoration, a W-shaped restoration. However we imagine there’ll be a robust restoration. And we’d discuss to our shoppers and prospects, and I’d say, effectively, let’s see, it’s March or April. I would be capable of 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 needed to unravel for that downside, which is — I name it a governance downside. You already know, asset allocation I believe in rising markets, one, being dynamic isn’t simply handy, it’s essential. 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 house. Ought to we be optimistic about EM right here, or ought to we be worrying about EM right here?

KOENIGSBERGER: Look, I believe we’re cautiously optimistic and we’ve had that decision for a couple of months. I might in all probability say after a ten% rally that we’ve had during the last 5, six weeks, possibly a bit extra cautious, however nonetheless optimistic within the medium time period. The explanation that, you already know, we’ve got 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 decide good — and identical to shares, proper, in case you decide — in case you can decide shares effectively, you may considerably outperform an index.

And you already know, if I confirmed you a chart of the dispersion of the returns inside the JPMorgan Rising Market Bond Index, you wouldn’t imagine it. I imply, issues down 15, issues up 15. Oil and fuel on one hand, and you already know, 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 long term like this. So we’re elevating a bit bit of money right here, excited about hedge overlays and what have you ever. However, you already know, 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 world wide. 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 believe that’s an essential query as a result of I believe traditionally, you already know, when developed markets get sick, growing markets have gotten to the hospital. And I believe that’s a giant a part of — you already know, I might say what’s occurred to rising markets in 2022 has been predominantly an exogenous shock coming from elevating charges world wide.

That’s hasn’t at all times been the case in rising markets. You already know, we’ve got issues referred to as the tequila disaster, and the vodka disaster, and the caipirinha disaster, and the tango disaster. These had been endogenous crises created inside rising markets. However this one was — you already know, it’s been about increased charges, much less liquidity in markets. In order that being mentioned, you already know, I believe the Fed has been signaling slower pause on charges. After we take into consideration native charges in rising markets, you already know, we felt that when the greenback energy went away, that it could be a superb time to begin leaning into native charges inside rising markets.

You already know, we noticed — we had been on the lookout for three issues. You already know, we’ve got a top-down each month, and we mentioned, if the 2s go to 450, if 10s go to 4, and the greenback DXY goes to 115, that’s a reasonably good place to consider boarding the flight. So test on 450, test on 4, and we hit 114 in three quarters —

RITHOLTZ: Fairly shut.

KOENIGSBERGER: — about six weeks in the past. So you already know, I believe over the previous couple months, that simply sort of add length, despite the fact that charges had been nonetheless predicted. And significantly low greenback value funding grade securities the place you get a variety of convexity, that in case you get a snapback like we had seen in charges, that you simply get to get pleasure from that experience again up.

RITHOLTZ: Some folks have been wanting on the sturdy greenback of the previous two quarters is only a wrecking ball, wreaking havoc in every single place. How do you set the energy of King Greenback into context? And I might share some fascinating tales about a number of the loopy issues I’ve seen on my aspect of the road. How does it affect rising markets when the greenback is as simply, you already know, as highly effective because it’s been this yr?

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. And once more, inside rising markets, I believe it’s a dispersion of responses primarily based upon the place you might be. However I believe, you already know, usually, increased charges, stronger greenback has been a headwind for rising markets. You already know, curiously, rising markets have had rather a lot 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 had been sort of forward of the curve by way of elevating charges. And I believe 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 believe maybe we noticed that at 114 in three quarters, you already know, may return to 110 on DXY or what have you ever.


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

RITHOLTZ: Bought you.

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

RITHOLTZ: It’s wild.

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

RITHOLTZ: Yeah, completely. So let’s speak about 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 nearly on a daily 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 effectively. You already know, for us, we’ve checked out Argentina far more on an opportunistic foundation versus someplace that you simply need to be on a regular basis. You already know, in case you return, after we began our enterprise in 1998, ‘99, Argentina was 18% of the index. And we had been speaking earlier about —


KOENIGSBERGER: — about how dangerous indices will be, proper? So JPMorgan needed to step 18% of our portfolio in Russia, or pardon me, in Argentina, proper earlier than it defaulted. Quick ahead immediately, you already know, we’ve got an election developing in Argentina in October of 2023. We simply had a passing of the baton from Martin Guzman to Sergio Massa. I believe Massa is market-friendly sufficient. I believe he’s completed — you already know, what he must do with the IMF, and we count on that Massa will be capable of stabilize the markets earlier than they begin to climb the wall fearful going into the presidential elections in October 2023. So with, you already know, 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 value 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 sophisticated. You already know, to start with, it’s below restrictions immediately, proper? So U.S. Treasury, the OFAC restrictions. So Venezuela is extra of a theoretical dialog. Now, we had been speaking about Russia and Ukraine earlier than, you already know, it’s fascinating to notice that Chevron is again pumping oil. That’s a direct connection to Russia invading Ukraine. And I believe it was inside days, if not weeks, that the U.S. State Division was already in Caracas after the Russians had invaded.

RITHOLTZ: Which means we’re out on the lookout for oil wherever we will get it to offset curbing Russian exports world wide?

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 fingers with Maduro. Proper? So look, Venezuela has a variety of oil capability. You already know, I believe at their peak, they had been doing 3 million barrels a day. They’re in all probability common 2.4 million barrels a day through the Chavez period. Immediately, they’re like 700,000 barrels. They may in all probability ease (ph) that.

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

KOENIGSBERGER: That’s it. Nicely, you already know, the unhealthy information is that they haven’t had the CapEx. The excellent news is all of the property nonetheless below the bottom. So, you already know, I believe there’s a risk of a thawing (ph). You already know, hopefully, they’ll take the trail of shifting in the direction of a extra democratic regime within the upcoming elections. And I believe the U.S. might stay with a regime the place the Chavistas win, the present authorities, if it’s perceived to be democratic or a minimum of extra democratic. And we’ve seen that traditionally in Latin America, you already know, the place folks that had been ostracized that got here in again by way of the democratic course of had been in a position to run.

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

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


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

RITHOLTZ: Not the biggest outdoors of the Center East? The biggest bar none.

KOENIGSBERGER: On the planet. Yeah.


KOENIGSBERGER: So greater than Saudi Arabia. So now we all know that, you already know, Saudi Aramco has completed an IPO. It’s value a trillion {dollars}. You already know, might Petabase [ph] or Venny [ph] Aramco be value 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 a variety of potential there. And hopefully, you already know, 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 had been doing about one million barrels a day of manufacturing. Immediately, 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 will’t say that it’s as a result of it was such a politically steady place. Proper? So you already know, we might think about at Venezuela on the opposite aspect, the place the 700,000 barrels goes again to level —




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

RITHOLTZ: So let’s discuss a bit bit about China. How do you method China? I take a look at fairness there, it’s basically flat because the early Nineteen Nineties. When you’re an outsider, it looks like the Chinese language Central Celebration has taken all these good points for themselves. Is China investable? How do you even method a rustic like that?

KOENIGSBERGER: So I believe after we take into consideration investability, one has to consider value, proper, preliminary circumstances. And so I’ll begin with, traditionally, in China, for an extended time frame, 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 corporations had within the offshore was mainly a chunk 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 possibly get China to approve that dividend, after which to pay you. So —

RITHOLTZ: That feels like a horrible setup for funding.

KOENIGSBERGER: It’s. Yeah. So for a debt investor excited about 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 possibility worth. And after I take a look at the China property sector immediately, it jogs my memory of a variety 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 final result that we predict that we will 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 folks —

RITHOLTZ: Bambi Syndrome?

KOENIGSBERGER: Folks frozen within the headlight.

RITHOLTZ: Oh, bought you.

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

So after we take a look at China property at 5, 8, 10 cents immediately, and we see these people who find themselves expressing willingness to restructure, however a lack of information of the right way to do it, the choice worth appears fairly low-cost.

RITHOLTZ: That’s actually fairly intriguing. We talked earlier about Russia. I’ve at all times seemed askance at Russia as a result of there is no such thing as a respect for personal property, for contract rights, for rule of legislation. Do you may have the identical challenges in China, or are they a bit extra westernized by way of in case you minimize a deal, they are going to honor it?

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


KOENIGSBERGER: Proper? So to only assume which you can have a Lehman second and simply, you already know, 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 believe it’s rather a lot much less dangerous immediately 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 sort of blinked because it associated to this and there’s simply huge assist going into that sector. So does that imply I need to purchase a par safety in China anytime quickly? No. However can we get extra snug 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 prolong, they don’t need to wipe us out, they don’t need to equitize, they don’t need to toss the keys? I believe it’s a reasonably good guess.

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

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. I imply, so there’s a social ingredient to that response, which is, you already know, you may see that the inhabitants has been fed up. I imply, I am going again to, you already know, 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 happening China for almost three years. So you may have giant numbers of individuals which were very sad.

And I’m not stunned, once more, to see after the social gathering congress, them tuck or pivot, which is everyone’s favourite phrase as of late, and begin to open up the financial system. I’ll take that again to, you already know, I believe 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 sluggish and spotty. And now, we’re seeing that the calls for are there and we’re having problem with provide aspect. I might count on one thing comparable in China, however I believe demand for housing goes to be there. The assist is there, and that’s a significant a part of their financial system.

RITHOLTZ: Actually fairly fascinating. So let’s discuss a bit bit about market effectivity and debt. Plainly EM is extra sophisticated, 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 positive. I imply, I believe the knowledge asymmetry implies that in case you can arrange yourselves so as to have the ability to seize info, and once more, that’s outdoors the agency and contained in the agency. You already know, we talked a bit bit about having platforms that may suck up that info from the areas. But additionally the best way that we’re organized as an funding workforce, 4 completely different technique teams, all collaborating, all assembly each morning, all sitting on an funding committee, sharing like what’s happening in public debt issues to personal debt.

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

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

RITHOLTZ: One of many issues I’ve at all times questioned concerning 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 attempt 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 mentioned, I might say that, you already know, most any nation that was frontier, we’ve got invested in, traded and traveled in some unspecified time in the future in our careers. And issues typically go from frontier to rising markets, typically they return. We’re far more involved in sort of the bottoms-up evaluation and what it means. However, you already know, Bulgaria was frontier in ’93, ’94. It turned funding grade shortly thereafter. Poland was, you already know, similar factor, it was frontier. So for us within the debt aspect, it doesn’t actually matter. Some frontiers have a variety 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 believe it depends upon the way you outline rising markets. You already know, within the textbook, you already know, per capita GDP, it’s actually nonetheless labeled as an rising market nation.

RITHOLTZ: Second largest financial 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 already know, it’s actually arduous to only examine it to all different rising markets. And as you already know, on the fairness aspect, not solely is it — you already know, it’s such a giant part of the Rising Market Index, proper? It’s like while you purchase —


KOENIGSBERGER: If you purchase the EM fairness index, you’re mainly shopping for China and some others. I’m unsure that makes a variety of sense going ahead.

RITHOLTZ: No, I couldn’t agree extra. Let’s discuss a bit bit about your workforce. The chairman of Gramercy s the previous CEO of PIMCO, Mohamed El-Erian. What’s it wish to work with him daily? 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 bought to know us, he sort of leaned in and met the workforce. And we had a dialog about him serving to us take into consideration how can we institutionalize the top-down? How can we — you already know, we’ve been very a lot a bottoms-up stock-picking store and credit score, if you’ll, credit-picking store. And we needed to guarantee that we had a superb 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 it’s best to get out of that nation or what have you ever. So now, with, you already know, 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 already know what, I can have an actual affect on the enterprise. I don’t need to be there daily —


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

RITHOLTZ: Full credit score to him, he’s been an entire lot extra proper than mistaken on every thing from rising markets to inflation, to charges. He appears to be on a sizzling streak as of late.

KOENIGSBERGER: Look, he is a superb top-down decoder. He’s an investor, proper? Plenty of economists can discuss 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 effectively forward of the curve on COVID. Like, I didn’t know what — he mentioned to me sooner or later, like, you already know, this can be a sudden cease and you’ll’t have a sudden begin.

RITHOLTZ: Useless on.

KOENIGSBERGER: I by no means actually considered that, proper?


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

RITHOLTZ: Nonetheless ready for semiconductors to get to new automobiles, so folks couldn’t —


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

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. And you already know, I believe he’s effectively forward of the curve on inflation, proper. And so it’s been nice. He’s given us a variety of confidence on the top-down. You already know, what I believe differentiates us is we will take the top-down, and he has actually helped us institutionalize and marry it with our sturdy bottoms-up and be capable of differentiate. And you already know, lastly, he’s simply turn into an important pal.

RITHOLTZ: Yeah, he’s actually a captivating, charming gentleman. I’m a giant fan. Earlier than I get to my favourite questions, let me throw a curveball at you a bit bit. Inform us about Turkey. What’s your relationship to the nation? How typically 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 a variety of time there within the summers. And so, you already know, 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 needed our daughters to study Turkish, so we bought an condominium there. Each summer season, we love going to the seashore down there, down — and Bodrum is like stunning water.

RITHOLTZ: Is that the Mediterranean or the Asian?

KOENIGSBERGER: It’s on the Aegean aspect.

RITHOLTZ: In order that’s spectacular over there.

KOENIGSBERGER: Stunning water, stunning — and nice folks, nice hospitality, superior meals. So you already know, actually loved it.

RITHOLTZ: Signal me up. Wow.

KOENIGSBERGER: And you already know, it’s turn into an essential a part of our enterprise through the years too, as a result of I spent a lot time there. Though I’m a Latin Americanist by coaching, I’ve turn into very snug in Turkey as effectively.

RITHOLTZ: Actually very fascinating. Let’s soar to our favourite questions that we ask all our visitors. And I’m going to need to retire this query one in every of as of late, now that we’re largely reopened, however through the lockdown, inform us what you had been doing to remain entertained? What had been you streaming after we had been all caught in the home?

KOENIGSBERGER: So we had been simply speaking about Turkey. And Netflix occurs to have an important catalogue of Turkish reveals.

RITHOLTZ: Actually? So 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 study Turkish language, but additionally study Turkish tradition, and be actually entertained within the course of.

RITHOLTZ: Give us the identify of the present.

KOENIGSBERGER: Certainly one of them that I simply completed is known as Atiye in Turkish —


KOENIGSBERGER: — which suggests the reward. And it has a little bit of — I take into consideration 24 episodes and it’s about sort 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 by way of 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 a variety of time with him on a one-on-one foundation. He had an important thoughts. He understood the intersection of politics and markets. You already know, English was a second language, however I believe he taught me English by way of 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 already know, he had this guidelines mentality, which seems to be rather a lot like danger administration, proper? Like, at all times excited about what can go mistaken and the right way to keep away from the catastrophic mistake and the non-recoverable mistake. And so I put these two collectively and say they had been nice mentors.

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

KOENIGSBERGER: And possibly 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 useless.


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 already know, we’ve bought an election developing in Turkey this yr as effectively. So I’ve been doing a little studying on Turkey and one specifically, it’s a e-book referred to as Turkey Underneath Erdogan. And it sort of simply provides you a way of what Turkey has been like during the last 20 years with Erdogan and possibly take into consideration a number of the components that 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 already know, they alter daily. And everyone knows that polls aren’t as dependable as they —

RITHOLTZ: Positive.

KOENIGSBERGER: — by no means had been. However after I was in Turkey this summer season, I might have informed you that the percentages for him profitable had been fairly low. And that’s as a result of if he spoke with — you already know, there’s a little bit of a distress index, you already know, older, retired folks that had been getting squeezed by excessive inflation and the foreign money devaluation, however then additionally younger youngsters, proper, that simply felt sort 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 had been there — you already know, I had a workforce there two weeks in the past. You already know, their name, it’s like 50/50.


KOENIGSBERGER: And I believe, you already know, 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 already know, with the buyers and management.

RITHOLTZ: Yeah. He’s a captivating man as effectively. So these are the 2 books you simply completed most just lately?


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

KOENIGSBERGER: What’s humorous within the post-COVID period, I might begin with saying that presence issues, and that they need to go to the workplace. And there’s a variety of younger youngsters who, you already know, simply assume they’re as environment friendly at dwelling, as productive at dwelling. However they neglect that, you already know, 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 might say, you already know, attempt to make your profession extra linear and style, and logical. I see a variety of younger youngsters immediately, it’s like, effectively, I’m going to strive funding banking, and I’m going to strive tech, you already know, no matter is sizzling. However in case you’re actually involved in 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 immediately 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 completed, and the way you complement the workforce. You don’t need to emulate the workforce. You will be completely different. And with variety comes, you already know, higher outcomes. So don’t simply attempt to be like everyone else.

RITHOLTZ: And our last query, what have you learnt concerning the world of rising markets, distressed debt, and investing immediately that you simply want you knew 30 years or so in the past, while you had been actually first getting your legs on to you?

KOENIGSBERGER: So after I left Lehman in early 1998, you already know, while you began in funding administration in rising market debt, you already know, it was mainly you probably did a hedge fund and you probably did a credit score hedge fund, and that’s what we did. You already know, if I might return to 1999 immediately, after we began Gramercy, I believe actual lengthy and arduous about possibly we need to do personal fairness buildings versus hedge fund buildings, have lengthy -locked capital versus short-locked capital, and give you the option to consider multiples of capital over the lengthy interval versus volatility and IRR within the quick run.

RITHOLTZ: Which means power the shoppers to be long term buyers than —

KOENIGSBERGER: Yeah. And I don’t need to use power, however companion with the shoppers in automobiles which might be extra — you already know, through the years, even in our credit score automobiles, we’re having longer-locked automobiles that enables one, you already know, in case you’re going to make an asset-backed mortgage and capital options, you may’t give 90-day liquidity, proper?


KOENIGSBERGER: So it’s bought to be extra like a quasi-PE construction, the place you make a mortgage, you may have three years to make the mortgage. You might have three years to get it again, after which return the capital in six or seven years. That makes much more sense than, you already know, 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 already know, 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 endlessly. That’s our asset allocation. However they stick in liquid in quotations “T plus 3,” you already know, get your a refund in three days. And I’ll return to the Mexico instance. You already know, a yr in the past, you could possibly get 3% for a safety for Pemex, or we might 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 decide up that further 1,000-plus foundation factors?

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

When you get pleasure from this dialog, effectively, be sure you try any of our prior 450 interviews. You could find these at iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, wherever you get your favourite podcasts from. Join my day by day reads at You may comply with me on Twitter @ritholtz. I might be remiss if I didn’t thank the crack workforce 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 mission supervisor.

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




Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here