Intelligence is simply talking to many people

Pershing Square's 2020

Bill Ackman's now managing $17b, after making 70% returns this year and 60% the year before, with his Pershing Square hedge fund. These two years, though, follow several years of losses. This shows, perhaps, how different investors with their own investing style perform differently in different market conditions.

In March, investors who are very risk-taking, of who foresaw somehow the certain quick recovery, would have performed the best. Going all in after the first week of the crisis in March would have shown the best results, particularly if you went into things like gold and mineral mining companies, vehicle companies like Ford, etc., which have all gone up hundreds of percent since then. Meanwhile, traditional investors like Warren Buffet performed really poorly in the crisis. Perhaps he didn't expect the Fed to do so much stimulus which many credit as doing almost all the lifting of the economy up until November or December when word of vaccine trial conclusions hit the press. But why didn't he? Doesn't he have access to this kind of information? Couldn't his giant investment company get basic forecast information and do the math?

Ackman didn't make his money on being wise after the pandemic, though. He made $2.6b off a single move. A low-downside-risk $26m hedge in the credit default swap index markets. Basically, he made a bet credit spreads, which were at an all time tightest levels ever, would widen going into what he saw to be a serious economic crisis. This would be caused when people would panic and sell and drive prices lower when pandemic news really hit. Notably, he did a voice call with CNBC where he sounded paniced and talked about how everything could go to zero.

His usual style is publicly pressuring management to make changes, an activist style, it is said. He made good returns off doing something like this with Canada's largest railway company a couple years ago, I think.

He's now one of the most talked-about investors of the year, along with Kathy Woods who's also had a good track record, I think largely because of her bet on Tesla a few years ago. I'd put money with him, going forward, I think only if I though he was going to do more highjinx like the panic-call short sell which made him so much.

Ackman interview on it at the end of 2020:

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