Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Boy, you know you've made it to the big time when one of those sketches of your pensive mug appears as part of a story on the front page of the Money and Investing section of the Wall Street Journal.
Such was the case with Mr. Michael Masters today.
Recall that Masters coined the term "index speculators" earlier this year in his then single-handed quest to reduce long positions in commodity futures that, incidentally, might benefit the outsized allocation of airline stocks in his hedge fund.
It's no longer a single-handed quest as many elected officials have seized on the idea of "simple solution to complex problems" as it relates to the nation's challenging energy future.
Apparently, even if the WSJ art department does take the time to do a nice charcoal sketch of you, it doesn't mean that the writers are going to be kind.
The recent oil selloff came after several senators proposed laws to curb investments they say drove up the price of gas and food, a notion heralded by Mr. Masters and derided by many economists. Critics said Mr. Masters is trying to buoy his own investing portfolio, which is laden with transportation-related stocks, and lawmakers are trying to show they are addressing high gas prices.Ouch!
One of the biggest champions of the antispeculation movement is Mr. Masters, 42 years old, who lives in St. Croix and manages Masters Capital Management LLC. The firm reported holdings of about $600 million in a recent regulatory filing, down about half from year end.
Mr. Masters won't comment on the firm's holdings; about 10% are in airlines, autos and other transportation companies that would benefit from lower oil prices. He said profits have been about flat this year.
Mr. Masters gained admiration from farmers, crop distributors and others who invited him to speak around the country. But he has drawn ridicule from some economists and others, who question his analysis and say he isn't a commodities expert and is trying to boost his own portfolio.