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Jeff Gundlach says to short Facebook in his new pair trade idea

Bond investor Jeffrey Gundlach, the founder of DoubleLine Capital, offered an unusual pair trade idea of long SPDR Oil & Gas Exploration ETF (XOP) and short Facebook (FB).

“The last two years I was here, I did pair trades that are quite low risk. This is pretty risky, so you don’t need to leverage,” Gundlach told a room of 3,000 investors at the Sohn Conference in New York on Monday.

During his presentation, Gundlach said, “As the next recession approaches, commodities should have a big gain.” He added that commodities tend to outperform the S&P  going back to 1972 leading into recessions “very dramatically.”

Jeffrey Gundlach, CEO of DoubleLine Capital, speaks during the Sohn Investment Conference in New York City, U.S., May 8, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

“One part of the market that’s lagged what it should have been doing is the energy sector,” he said, comparing the XOP to the price of oil. He called the XOP chart “a thing of absolute beauty” and that the ETF has “lots of room” to go higher.

To get to his next point, he highlighted famed speculator Jesse Livermore, the trader who reaped a $100 million profit from the 1929 stock market crash.

One of this slides quoted Livermore’s famed line: “There is nothing new on Wall Street or in stock speculation. What has happened in the past will happen again and again and again.”

“I hear 2.2 billion compliance breaches”

Gundlach then went on to share an anecdote about Gov. Mike Dukakis’s dispassionate response to a presidential debate question about whether he would support the death penalty if his wife were raped and murdered.

“Because Dukakis was notoriously anti-death penalty, he answered, ‘No, I don’t, and I think you know that I’ve opposed the death penalty during all of my life.’ And his campaign was over because of his lack of empathy. To viewers, it seemed he was dispassionate, dismissive, and phony as if to prove he is robotic and not forthcoming.”

Tying those thoughts together, Gundlach then turned to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent apology tour.

“So speaking of nothing forthcoming and dispassionate and ‘again and again nothing new ever occurs in the business of speculating, what has happened in the past will happen again and again and again,’ so speaking of not forthcoming and dispassionate, we have Mark Zuckerberg and the apology,” Gundlach said, pulling up a slide of Zuckerberg.

“‘I’m really sorry that this happened,’” Gundlach said, imitating a whiny voice. “It doesn’t even say that they did anything wrong. Sorry that this happened. A month later, ‘It was my mistake and I’m sorry.’ What’s ‘it’? Sounds like Bill Clinton, ‘Depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.'”

In the world of investing, there’s “good” and “bad” and “interpretations matter.”

“‘We hear the good thing about Facebook is there [are] 2.2 billion users.’ When I hear that, I hear 2.2 billion compliance breaches,” Gundlach said.

“‘Social media’, that’s such a nice happy phrase. Facebook used to be a place that people felt good going to,” he continued. “Now you’re being signed up for Facebook, like me, and getting my data shared with other people. So, let’s think about what we may call it now, ‘iSpy Media,’ ‘Opioid Media,’ ‘Election Media’… ‘Bullying Media.'”

He then referenced Livermore once more.

“Livermore had some rules. Once a stock had broken downwards, sell the stock short. He would look for signs that they’re behaving normally to stick with the trade. He would look for signs. These were the signs: At the beginning of the move, there should be an unusually large amount of shares traded. You’ll notice in the breakdown we have record volume in recent years in Facebook. Prices should move generally downward for a few days. Check. What he called a ‘normal reaction’, he then observed, which is defined as a move against the downtrend on decreased volume. You’ll notice the volume has decreased. And then after the normal reaction, the volume should increase again and the downtrend should be resumed.”

At last year’s conference, Gundlach offered a pair trade: short the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) and go long iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM).

Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.