Chamath Palihapitiya told CNBC on Wednesday the recent frenzy of trading stemming from Reddit’s WallStreetBets demonstrates that retail investors can do the same quality of analysis as hedge fund managers who “don’t have an edge.”
The billionaire investor sees a “pushback against the establishment” from retail investors, many of whom watched their parents lose money during the financial crisis while large institutions on Wall Street were bailed out.
Palihapitiya said that the 2.7 million users on WallStreetBets are as important to the market as any hedge fund. And, some Redditors are doing “incredible fundamental diligence,” even better than professional hedge fund analysts.
He also lamented the lack of transparency within hedge funds who maximize gains using prime brokers, and called out “idea dinners” in the Hamptons where a select number of managers get together behind closed doors and pitch investment ideas.
Investors on WallStreetBets are more courageous than managers, Palihapitiya said, because they discuss their ideas in public, and aren’t afraid to admit losses.
“It takes an enormous amount of faith in the system to be that transparent, to talk about things and then for each individual to make their own mind up and to do things, whether it’s to buy or to sell. And I think that what it proves is this retail phenomenon is here to stay,” he added.
He predicted that in the long run, retail sophistication will catch up to institutional sophistication, but first, hedge funds should be forced to disclose the details of their trades like investors on WallStreetBets do
“My point in all of this, if you want to make the system better and healthier, force more transparency on the institutional side,” Palihapitiya said.
“Why is it allowed for somebody running a hedge fund to basically claim that they are market neutral, but be levered up? They take a $10 billion fund and their prime brokers allow them to run a hundred billion dollars of notional exposure-who thinks that that’s fair?” said the investor.
“It’s not fair to the retail investor because when that blows up and a hundred billion dollar hole exists in a fund, which by the way, this is exactly what happened in 2008, the government bails them out-and who is the government? All of us,” he added.