The Tell: Hedge-fund manager: Market ‘purging’ could lead to a plunge of ‘at least 74%’

Back in February, Kevin Smith, chief investment officer at Crescat Capital, urged investors to resist the temptation to buy the dip as he pushed his “macro trade of the century.”

“We certainly did not predict the coronavirus,” he wrote at the time. “But it may prove to be the catalyst to tip this market [into] a brutal bear market.”

Bears have been wrong many times over the eleven year bull market. Crescat’s top fund, for instance, lost almost 9% in January to lag its peer group by a wide margin. But Smith, with $200 million under management, definitely nailed it this one. In fact, his cautious footing has helped him deliver a 31% surge in his Global Macro fund so far this month, and he’s predicting more of the same.

“We are looking for a 56% drop from the top in February. That just gets us to a reversion to the mean for historical market valuation,” he told MarketWatch. “Honestly, we think a more reasonable target for this global recession that is only beginning is at least a 74% decline from February’s highs to mark the bottom. There were just too many excesses in this one. The purging… has only just begun.”

One way to profit from such a gloomy scenario would be to back Crescat’s “trade of the century’ — Long precious metals — gold

GC.1, -0.09%

 , silver

SI.1, +0.23%

  and related mining stocks — short Chinese yuan

CNYUSD, +0.3218%

and short equities.

“This trade has another year plus to play out in our view,” Smith said.

Specifically, he’s very bullish on silver and miners, which he believes have hit a “major bottom” and present a “historic setup” for investors looking to put cash to work.

“The global economy has just entered a recession and the fundamental damage of the virus outbreak on an already over-leveraged economy will be greater than anything we have ever seen,” Smith wrote in an update to clients. “We have massive underfunded pensions with governments and corporations record indebted, while wealth inequality is at an extreme across the globe. It is not the ideal mix for asset prices that remain grossly overvalued worldwide.”

Read: Market action a century ago suggests worst could be over for stocks

The bulls were given a slight reprieve in Thursday’s trading session, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, +0.95%

adding almost 300 points, while both the S&P 500

SPX, +0.47%

and Nasdaq Composite

COMP, +2.30%

also moved solidly higher.

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